‘One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ‘ Mark 12:28-31
On Tuesday evening, during our “Chosen” group, the conversation had turned toward a question regarding “legalistic” behavior. In what areas of our life do we find ourselves being too legalistic and in what manner would we see that changed? The conversation quickly turned to calling out others in their sinful behavior, attempting to turn them toward Jesus, and why it is so often ineffective. The point was made that too often we fail to take the time and effort to understand the person first. I found this statement to be so profound. We are so very quick to point out where others are falling short or making poor and damaging choices, tell them that they need to stop and correct it, but how often do we take the time to dig in, enter into the person’s pain, cultivate a relationship and try to understand just exactly where they are and why? Understanding someone’s situation or point of view is not synonymous to agreeing with them. In its simplest form, its merely taking the time to understand, comprehend what is on a person’s heart and mind. You absolutely have to take the time and make the effort to know and understand the person and the situation before you can reasonably expect to have any effective impact of them or their choices.
In the above passage from Mark, Jesus states very plainly, the most important commandments are love God with all that you have and love your neighbor just as you love yourself. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were so fixated on the laws (most of which were convention directed and determined by the ruling religious class, not necessarily biblical) that they exhibited little to none of the principles clearly illuminated by Jesus in both word and deed. If we are loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we would do Him honor by illustrating and walking in the love and compassion He exemplified. Loving is not accepting bad behavior, it’s meeting the hurt and broken where they are, understanding them and being a compassionate representative of Christ’s love for them, getting dirty, doing the hard stuff, putting aside self and ego, cultivating a relationship grounded in love and respect, resulting in trust. You want to reach people for Jesus, try, first, seeing them as Jesus does and responding accordingly. Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy