THE GREATEST OF THESE IS  - - - WHAT!?!

By Arch Hoercher

Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV) – “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. The Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’  Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  First we are to love God with everything we have and everything that we are – with all your heart, soul, and mind.  Nothing is held back.  “All” is all, not just a portion or even most but “ALL”.  We are to love our neighbors with the same intensity and commitment as we do God because He said that the “second is like it”.  Jesus never said that following Him was going to be easy.  But these are the greatest of the Law.  All other laws hang from these.  If we love our neighbor and our neighbor is everyone else in the world not just those who live in the house next door, we would not kill them or steal from them or lie to them or ignore them in their need.  If we call Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, we must demonstrate His life in ours.  We would therefore love our neighbors and our enemies as ourselves.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV) reads: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Why am I bringing this up?  Because our world if full of hate.  Everywhere we look all we see is hate.  Overseas and in our own country, hate has a grip on so many.  And this hate is uncompromising.  It has no room for negotiations.  Our government is no better.  I have had an interest in politics for a very long time, since my high school years.  I will not tell you when that was.  But, politics today makes me sick at my stomach.  I have never seen so much disrespect and hatred directed towards others.  Compromise and negotiation seems out of the question.  A government founded on hatred is no government at all.  So what is going on?  We not only see hatred in the highest levels of our government, but we see it on our city streets. We see hatred directed toward Republicans and hatred directed toward Democrats.  We see hatred directed toward whites and we see hatred directed toward blacks.  We see hatred directed toward Christians and we see hatred directed toward Muslims.  We see hatred all around us.

What is going on?  Why so much hatred?  In Matthew Chapter 24 Jesus speaks about the last days (end times).  Matthew 24:9-12 (NIV) – “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be HATED by all nations because of Me.  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and HATE each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  Because of the increase of wickedness, the LOVE of most will grow cold.”    Are we in or close to the end times?  It would seem so with the amount of hatred that is all around us.  Jesus did say that no one but the Father knows the time or day. 

Is there a cure?  What can be done?  The answer is easy, but implementing the action is hard.  The answer is Jesus Christ and His love.  It is the Christian’s responsibility to manifest and display God’s love in all our interactions with other people.  If we display God’s love in our lives, others will see it and could be an influence on their lives. In John 13: 34-35 (NIV) Jesus said to His disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Scripture tells us that God is love.  Love has everything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  All aspects of our lives could be reduced down to one statement: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We need to not ever forget that “for God so loved the WORLD”.  Christ died for everyone.  Because of that reason alone a Christian should love and respect all people no matter how they might get under our skin.

Paul wrote about love in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 (NIV) – “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled;  where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is - - what!?!    LOVE!!!

Love is the answer to hate.  God’s love lived out in His children is the answer.  We have an influence on those around us.  Let others see the love of God in our lives.  What would happen if the politicians in Washington knew and practiced God’s love.  What a difference it would make if our politicians practiced that love is patient and kind and does not envy or boast and is not proud.  What would our world be like today?