Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37 Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
On Mount Sinai, Moses received ten pieces of commandments designed to make the children of Isreal in right standing before the Lord only if they carefully adhered to all of them.
- I am the Lord thy God! Thou shalt have no other gods but me!
- Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain!
- Thou shalt keep the Sabbath Day holy!
- Thou shalt honor father and mother!
- Thou shalt not kill!
- Thou shalt not commit adultery!
- Thou shalt not steal!
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor!
- Do not let thyself lust after thy neighbor’s wife!
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his farm, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his!
These sets of commandments are indeed great and if kept strictly one might be tempted to think he/she is in right standing with the Lord. However, keeping these sets of commandments is no assurance of being in right standing with the Lord as the intents of our hearts are also judged. Imagine masturbating and avoiding fornication, or avoiding to physically kill someone but making life miserable for such a fellow.
Jesus says the greatest of all command is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, and mind. What then does it mean to love?
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 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.
Love makes it possible for the fulfillment of the commandment to come from the inward man and not just mere observation of do’s and don’t. Love is practical (It is shown),
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven (Mathew 5:16).
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or under a basket. Instead, he sets it on a stand, so those who enter can see the light. (Luke 11:33)
So brethren, if you say you love God, it must be expressed in all you do. Can a man love God without loving his fellow men?
If anyone says, “I love God, but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20).
Remember then, if your love for God must show, your love for men must be seen. How can I love someone even when they offend me?
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! (Matthew 12:22)
As long as we are still here (on earth) offense is bound to come, but as children of God, forgiveness must be our lifestyle. You must forgive to be forgiven by God.
12 And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us (mathew 6:12)
I find this helpful in forgiving people. Jesus (one with no sin) was persecuted and killed shamefully, but his remark even when he was suffering was:
34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His garments by casting lots. (Luke 23:34)
Could it be that your offenders do not know what they are doing? Can someone be used by the devil to provoke you to sinful anger/unforgiveness? Yes! for this reason, try as much as you can never to hold people accountable for the evil they do to you rather take time to pray for them because most times we do not fight against people but spirits. Yes, demonic spirits.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Finally, if you love a brother, it must be shown. Love is active never passive.
Is their someone you feel might have offended you? Are you still hurt by their actions towards you or towards a loved one? Recognize you are a mere mortal (people can offend you as they did to Christ), Pray that God gives you a humble spirit to accommodate such offense, pray God’s forgiveness on the person and ask God to help you release yourself from the bondage of that pain.
Unless we come to a point where we recognize our emptiness (if not for the mercies of God) and acknowledge the fact that God can forgive our “enemies”, we will never get freed from the pains caused us by people.
By Joshua Sopuru.