You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And a second one is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39(ESV)

Jesus responds to a lawyer’s question with our focus verse. I wonder why the why the man posed the question. Was he seriously seeking an answer to something that bothered him? Did the group of Sadducees put that lawyer up to asking a question to trick or embarrass Jesus?

His answer may have surprised those in the crowd. The question, as presented, asks about a high thing, the greatest commandment. The Master told the group three ways in which to love God.

“with all your heart,” The human heart thought to be the seat of our emotions. When we choose to love another person, we want the best for that person. When we love God, our desire is to live for Him.

“with all your soul,” The soul is man’s true self, who we really are. Said another way, our soul is our inner core. When we say we know a person’s soul, we know his or her inner being.

“with all your mind.” Our minds control our thoughts as well as our movements. What we think at times dictates what we say or do. Our words convey more than we realize. Sometimes they convey hurt and cause problems. As followers of Christ, we are to represent Him in the world. As His emissaries, we are to live for Him hourly and daily.

Jesus continued instructing the Sadducees. With the last seven words of our focus verse, the LORD gets down to the very core of human relationships, how we treat those around us.

“You shall love”

Our neighborhood has changed over the time we have lived here. People have passed away, others have moved away. Those houses that were owner-occupied might now be rentals, several which seem to be vacant. Because of these factors, we no longer know most of those who live along our section of the street. As Mother Teresa told us, we must “Do it anyway.”

“your neighbor”

I found a way to love these neighbors and these supposedly empty houses. I have a section of my prayer list devoted to my neighborhood. In checking a neighborhood social media site’s message board one morning, I found I needed to expand my section to include a few more houses on a street down the way from our home.

“as yourself.”

As we continue to live in our world as things become more conflicted for those of us who love the LORD, we may need to look again at the values we hold and search for ways to please God as we pray for those near us and for those dear to us.

We can learn from the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our daily lives as we walk with Him. We can learn to seek His guidance before we comment on events and actions of others that we don’t understand. We can give Him the glory for the uplifting things He does and not try to take credit for anything He has done for us. We can encourage our neighbors as they try to improve their homes. We can be patient with those who do not have a like-minded viewpoint about certain events that affect our homes and our lives.

Father God;

I thank You for Your lesson on how to love You. I ask that You help me to love You according to this verse in order that I may truly represent You in this fallen world. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. AMEN