by Nelson Price

The Great Commandment
Nelson Price
Matthew 22: 34 - 40

What is the great commandment in the law? Deuteronomy 6:5 says, ''Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.'' Jesus Christ was asked a question that could have created a dilemma: there were 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative. Large factions defend certain ones as the most important, but Jesus reached back into Deuteronomy 6:5 and quoted an obscure one, which He knew to be worthy to dominate our emotions, direct our attitudes, and determine our actions. It was part of the shema = the creed of Judaism. Shema means to hear. It was the first O.T. scripture memorized by Jewish children. Their worship services open with the recitation of this text. Compliance controls our temper, corrects our thinking, and keeps us from temptation. It influences all of life. It gives life meaning, direction and purpose.

AGAPAO = agape = This kind of love does not refer to our natural impulses or immediate feelings. It is a conscious and deliberate act of the will. It means to seek God for His own sake, to have pleasure in Him, to strive impulsively after Him. Does it ever seem to you that you just don't work up an emotional thrill over loving God and your brothers and sisters. The occasional absence of this religious emotion causes some to conclude they aren't Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love. One is of feeling and one is of will. God never intended you to be a ''plaything'' of your emotions. It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when suffering from a case of remoteness.

The Lord said of Israel, ''Their heart is far from me.'' The word, far here doesn't refer to physical distance but to likeness. It is not physical distance, but dissimilarity that causes a sense of remoteness. Two creatures can be close physically, yet be unalike that they are ''far apart.'' A ...

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