First and Greatest Commandment

September 13, 2022

What is the first and greatest commandment of God? What is love? How to love God? These are the questions that will be answered one by one.

First and Greatest Commandment

When an expert in the law tested Jesus with the question: “which is the greatest commandment in the law?”, He answered, “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.”

Now, to love God is not something that happens to you. It is not a feeling nor an emotion. It’s not because you think you love God does it mean that you truly love God.

Love is a choice, not an emotion

Love is an action not a feeling

Love is deliberate and not passive

Love is not something that happens to you, love is something you do

Love is a Choice, not an Emotion

There are two kinds of believers:

     1. those who choose to follow their own ways; and

     2. those who choose to follow God

Those who Chose to Follow their Own Ways

Isaiah 66:3-4 ..They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations,…they did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.

Proverbs 1:28-32 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord .  Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,  they will eat the fruit of their ways…  For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them..

These people are the chosen people of God. However, they did evil in the sight of God and chose to displease God. It is because there is no fear in God, and most of all, no love.

Those who Chose to Follow God’s Commandments

Proverbs 8:10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold.

Psalms 119:173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.

Psalms 119:30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws

Between the two groups, which of them do you think loves God? It is obvious that those who follow God are the ones who truly love God. It is because they always choose to follow God’s instructions and laws, God’s precepts and the way of faithfulness, even if there is a choice not to. This shows that love is a choice and not a mere emotion. Many people emphasize having a ‘personal relationship’ with God, which is something they feel between them and God. However, they do not keep God’s laws. They are those who love God only with their lips.

Love is an Action, not a Feeling

There’s a saying, ‘action speaks louder than words’. Though we feel love, the bond only gets stronger over time when we take action. This is true for all types of relationship, even with our relationship with God.

The Bible also teaches us about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” No man can ever truly love another with such perfect love, but only God can love us unconditionally. That is why God is love; God is patient and kind. God is humble not proud. God is not self-seeking but seeks the good of others, and God keeps no record of wrongs and covered our sins by His sacrifice.

How to Love God?

Passover, is the First and Greatest Commandment

As God loved us, so we must love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The question is: “How to love God?”

The Bible testified about King Josiah who turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength, which means that he obeyed the first and greatest commandment. The reason he was commended as the one who loved God with all his heart, soul and strength is because he kept the Passover.

Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:21-25)

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God told His people to tie as symbols on their hands and bind on their foreheads the command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And in Exodus 13:8-9, the Passover observance will be like a sign on their hand and a reminder on their forehead.

This shows that the first and greatest commandment is closely tied to the observance of the Passover.

First Commandment: Worship True God through the Passover

God gave the first commandment among the ten commandments: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. This command means that you shall not worship other gods, but worship only God. It is because God, and no other, brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It is God who saved them out of it through the Passover and lead them to the promise land, the Land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey. It is for this reason that God commanded His people to commemorate the Passover, the day they came out of Egypt, because the Lord brought them out of it with a mighty hand.

At that time, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and consequently, slaves to the gods of Egypt. On the Passover night, God brought judgment on all the gods of Egypt, thereby, freeing them from the slavery of worshiping other gods. Consequently, they came to worship the only true God, their Redeemer.

This is also true in the time of King Hezekiah and King Josiah. For a long time, they unknowingly worshipped idols in the temple of God and in high places. But after they celebrated the Passover, their spiritual eyes were opened and they come to detest the idols which they have worshipped for a long time. Josiah got rid of the mediums and spirits, the household gods and other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:24); and Hezekiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles, destroyed the high places and altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 31:1). By destroying other gods, they come to worship true God. That is why the Bible commended Josiah as the one who loved God with all his heart, soul and strength.

Love God who Freed Us from the Slavery of Sin and Death through the Passover

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us (Romans 15:4). We must take as a lesson the life of the Israelites, so that we may always choose to follow and love God.

We, too, are slaves in this sinful world. God came to this earth and freed us from the slavery of sin and death through God’s sacrifice. God came as the Passover lamb, and gave us His precious flesh and blood for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. The Passover of the New Covenant established through Jesus’ blood is the light that exposes the den of the devil. Through the Passover, we come to know True God and worship the True God.

Passover is a law of God that allows us to keep the first and greatest commandment in the Bible. Truly, love is not something that happens to us, but love is something we do. Let us show our love through our actions and keep the Passover of the New Covenant, so that we, too, will be commended by God as the ones who love God with all our heart, soul and strength.