What matters to God? When we look at our life and our choices, what matters most to Him? What does He want from us? Because He’s not just some distant figurehead floating in the sky somewhere who knows everything that’s going on and doesn’t care. He’s present and involved in our lives at the most basic level. He cares about what happens to us. He cares about the choices we make. He wants to be a part of our lives.
I’m so distracted by all the busyness of life that I need to remind myself of what really matters. And when I think about what really matters I think instantly about the rules. I’m a performance-driven perfectionist, so I actually like rules. I’m not a big fan of breaking them either. So even though I know that the rules don’t make me righteous (only Christ can do that), I still want to follow them because if God hadn’t given them they wouldn’t be important.
But while I don’t know all there is to know about the Bible, I do understand that there are a lot of rules. There’s a ridiculous number of commandments, not just the ten we’re familiar with from the Charlton Heston movie. And I love the commandments. I love God’s laws. But that’s a lot of rules to keep track of, and it would be really great if there were a summary somewhere.
Cue Christ, the storyteller. One of the marks of the greatest storytellers is to be able to cut to the heart of the matter and tell you what the point of the story is, and Jesus was great at that.
Today’s verses are Matthew 22:36-40.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Love God. Love people. That’s a summary of the Law.
Want to know what matters to God? Love Him first. Then, love people around you.
Want to know how to live? Love God. Love people.
Want to know how to make decisions? Love God. Love people.
Don’t know how to handle a situation at work? Or at home? Or at church? Or at school? Love God. Love people.
It’s basic, but it’s real. And it’s true. If you love God and love people, the decisions you make and the choices you make will begin to change your focus. Actually, your focus will change. When you’re serious about loving God and loving people, your entire outlook on life will change.
God wants us to love Him. But not just love like a passing fancy. He wants to be the most important relationship in your life. And that can be difficult sometimes because it’s hard to relate to someone you can’t see. At least, we can’t see Him like we see each other. But there are other ways to know Who God is and where He is and what He thinks. And most of the time, I don’t find it hard to love Him. I mean, He’s God. And personally, He’s everything to me. But then, I don’t have a spouse. Or children. So I can’t speak to the difficulty of balancing those aspects of life with my relationship with God.
And then there are the days when He doesn’t do what I want Him to do. But even then, I don’t stop loving Him. But I can tell you that many times He’s not the priority in my head. I want Him to be, but my attention wanders.
But the one I really struggle with is Most Important Command Number Two: Love People.
People make me mad. They frustrate me to no end, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed this bad habit of speaking my mind. And my mind isn’t always a good thing to let loose on the public. It’s got some snark and sarcasm in there that can be hurtful if not tamed, and though I hate to admit this, as someone who loves words, I know just how to use them to manipulate. So for me it’s a constant battle of knowing when to open my mouth and when to seal it shut because I don’t want something I say to be damaging.
God loves people. He loves me. And I’m a person. He loves the world, and the world is full of people. The trouble with people is that they usually only think about themselves. And I’m lumping myself into that people category too. But what this commandment tells us to do is to go against what is natural to us; we are commanded to love each other rather than ourselves. That’s not normal. And that’s dang difficult. But that’s what matters to God. Love Him. Love people.
Does He deserve it? Absolutely.
Do they deserve it? Absolutely not. But because He loves them and He loves us, we need to do it anyway.
Granted, I’m not saying love people at the expense of your health or your sanity, but at the very least, change your mind about them. People are people. They do stupid things. Guess what? So do you.
Everybody needs grace.
So today, make your choices and decisions remembering that the most important commandments are to love God and love people. If you can live by that, I’m willing to be you’ll see a difference not only in your relationships but in yourself as well.