By Daniel Shafer
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
You probably recognize this verse, it’s from Matthew 22 when Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. It was meant as a trap by the Pharisees. As Jesus deftly sidestepped the trap, he also gave the basis for all commandments, rules, and the ideal He wants for us.
As we approach Christmas, the day that has been set apart to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we need to take a step back and really examine how we view these two commandments: to see how we follow them or if we are even willing to follow them.
You have to start with the first commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is huge. It’s hard to fully grasp what this means, or how it should look in our lives. But coming to grasp with the reality of loving God with everything in you is the basis of living like Christ.
Following the first commandment and being wholly consumed in love for God leads us directly into the second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This seems simple enough until you try to live it and realize how humbling it truly is.
But how do we fulfill this second commandment? A few chapters later in Matthew 25, Jesus, while describing the judgment on the last day, gives us what that is. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…”
In order to follow this we need an example, and help. We have both in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They are the perfect embodiment of these commandments. Jesus coming to rescue us is the reason for our hope in this life and for the next. He came to save us from ourselves and in the process of doing so gave us the example, of what a hope filled life is. The Holy Spirit was sent to us as helper, and a guide to empower us to live as Christ’s example.
This is the heart of living out the second commandment and bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to others. When we look and see the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the incarcerated, we are to meet their physical need and share the Hope of Christ with them.