Let Love Direct Our Conduct
In an effort to test our Lord, the scribe in Mark 12:28-31 asked Christ what the greatest commandment of all was. Christ answered him by reciting the instructions given to the Israelites in Deut. 6:5 where it is pointed out that we, as his children, are to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. However, Christ used this opportunity to take the lesson one step further by adding that the second great commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves.
This is an age old lesson that continues to be heralded from pulpits all over the world because we live in an age that teaches us to love ourselves first and let our neighbors come second. Christ understood that if man’s heart was driven by love, the actions that came forth from him would be those that have other’s interests at heart. This makes for strong relationships and promotes love in return. In contrast, a “one up” attitude only incites a retaliation that continues to escalate situations to the point pride takes over and reconciliation becomes unlikely.
This is no doubt why Christ instructed us to always put others first. The old law legislated how the Jews were to handle each other in business deals etc. but Christ decided under the new covenant to change the heart with love. This ultimately changes the fruits or actions that come from it. Paul reminded the Colossians to put on the new man, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
We need to keep these instructions in mind when we prepare to come into the assembly to offer worship to God. In Matthew 5:24 Christ stated that if our brother had anything against us that we are to take care of that matter before coming to God’s alter with sacrifice. The context of this scripture points out that physical acts alone are not the whole problem, but what is in our heart convicts us just the same. So, there is no fooling God because he knows our heart. If we feed our relationships with love and always make amends immediately when problems arise, we can come to God in sacrifice with a bold and confident heart.
- Marc Hopkins