Love God and Love Neighbor

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

First-century BC Rabbi Hillel famously wrote this statement: “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary—now go study.” Jesus would confirm this almost 100 years later in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” In addition, Jesus further clarified the purpose of the “Law and the Prophets” in Matthew 22 (and elsewhere) when an expert in the Law asked Jesus what was the greatest of the commandments. Jesus answered with two commandments: the first is to love God with the entire heart, soul, and mind. The second (which Jesus proclaimed is like the first) is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. It is after this declaration that Jesus stated, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
So it is that we hear out of the mouth of the Son of God what is most important—what is at the center of everything that God is expressing to his people in his word. The center of everything is love for God, first and foremost. Right next to that, however, is love for those around us. It is love for “neighbor.” It is a real-life, everyday outcome of our increasing realization of the love that God demonstrated to us in Christ that leads us to turn and show that same love to others. Everything that God intends his people to be can be summed up in that word: love God and love neighbor.

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