Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Keeping the First and Great Commandment

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.  Matthew 22:37b-38

Jesus made this statement in answer to a lawyer who was testing him with the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?”

The immediate response of conscientious believers to Jesus’ statement is a zealous commitment to fill our hearts with love for God.

Contrast the words of Jesus and our resulting commitment to loving God with a statement made by Paul in his letter to the Philippians while in prison. Believing God would deliver him from prison for further ministry to the Philippian believers he writes:

…  to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith … Philippians 1:24-25

Why does Jesus say the greatest command is to love God while Paul implies that a believer’s greatest need is faith?

Do Jesus and Paul contradict each other? They do not.

The answer to this seeming contradiction is that our commitment to love will remain an empty desire until it is mixed with faith.

We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are told that the fruit of the Spirit is love. We will keep the command to love God when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

We are filled with the Spirit when we choose to experience crucifixion, burial, and resurrection and believe we are already crucified, buried, and resurrected.

In Galatians 5:6 Paul writes that faith works “through love.”