New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Once upon a time, I thought of the Bible as the history of the development of recommendations for good and right living. It started with the Law of Moses in the Old Testament – an uncountable number of do’s and don’t’s. (Q: Is the total of all the Laws of Moses documented somewhere?) Then it was condensed down to Ten Commandments. And finally, in the New Testament, Jesus reduced it down to two.
Now, I find this a tiny bit deceptive, as I have found that this pair is actually successfully followed by asking three questions. (None of which is really prerequisite, but it makes sense to tackle them in order.)
How do I love God? …love myself? …love others?
The key to answering is time. Taking the time. Making, not finding, the time in my busy schedule. (Note, though, that the third, loving others, does not always need a great deal of time, since I can achieve it simply, in the way I interact with them – even strangers I meet only once.)
The end result of a large amount of time with someone is knowing him/her, so an accurate way to put the three questions is:
Know God, love God. Know yourself, love yourself. Know others, love others.
Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
#1. Know God, Love God
I learn about God through the time I spend studying His Word, fellowshipping and worshipping with other believers, and through prayer and meditation upon the insights I receive. I keep coming back for more. I become thankful for any blessing. I realize how He, the Creator, sees His creations like a parent sees his child and grandchild. I know the feeling of holding forgiveness for them in their innocent childhood for anything they might do. (Of course, this is most difficult; I can have only a small sense of how much God is willing to forgive, especially as age introduces willfulness to the wrongdoing.)
#2. Know Myself, Love Myself.
As I begin to comprehend Him, I begin to see myself as He sees me. I look with His eyes and honestly examine my life, my choices, my deceptive attitudes about who I am and who I am not. I unravel the tangle of loving and caring for and about oneself. I take the first tentative attempts at forgiveness, mercy, and understanding of me. I grasp that each morning is a new day. The harshest lesson is that forgiveness and consequences are not at all the same. But I am somehow able to keep moving forward, rising – with His help – after every fall.
#3. Know Others, Love Others
As I come to embrace my own humanness, I figure out that I can give what I have received. I keep paying it forward. I understand the difference between needs and wants, and what amount is enough and how to release and share any overflow. I apply myself to servanthood instead of servitude. I can wait patiently and not give in to anger or frustration.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Each moment is a test of my studies. Confident and content, I experience a peace I have never known before. And I am fully ready for every new “now”.