What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself?

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Jesus said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39 also Luke 10:27). In this verse, the Savior quoted from Deut. 6:5. The Hebrew word here translated “love” is a general term that means “desire,” “affection,” “inclination,” or the intimate cleaving of a person to another.

Love is the basis of all relations

The believer’s relation to God is built on love (1 John 4:19), and love is the essential principle of God’s law (Mark 12:29, 30). Therefore, to love perfectly is to obey unreservedly (John 14:15; 15:10). Before a person can obey God’s law (Rom. 8:3,4) by the grace of Christ, there must first be love in the heart. Obedience without love is meaningless. But when there is love in the heart, the believer will naturally set his life in line with the will of God as expressed in His commandments (John 14:15; 15:10).

Jesus quoted the phrase “To love the neighbor as your self” (Matt. 5:43; 19:19; Luke 10:27–29) from Lev. 19:18, where the word “neighbor” was understood to represent a fellow Israelite. But Jesus widened the definition of “neighbor” to include all who are in need of help (Luke 10:29–37).

God asks for an undivided heart

Christianity calls for all that a man is and has—his mind, his affections, and his actions (1 Thess. 5:23). The word “heart” refers to the feelings, desires, and will of a person. It is the source of all action (Ex. 31:6; 36:2; 2 Chron. 9:23; Eccl. 2:23). The word “soul” means the stimulating principle in a man. The word translated “might” refers to the things that a man obtains in his life.

Man’s natural inclination is to put self first, regardless of duties mandatory upon him in his relations to God and to his fellow men. But to be perfectly selfless in dealing with his fellows, a man must first love God above all. For this is the very basis of all godly behavior. Love for God, if truly present in the heart will be revealed in every aspect of the life.

God’s law is summed up by love

The law of love toward God and man was not new. Jesus affirmed that the OT is nothing more nor less than a description of the two great laws—love for God and love for man. However, He was the first to tie the principles of Deut. 6:4, 5 and Lev. 19:18 and summed it up as “the whole duty of man,” (Ecc. 12:13-14), though Micah talked about the same concept (Micah 6:8).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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