Loving God with Your Whole Heart &
Your Neighbor as Yourself
Jesus taught that God’s word is spectacularly important. He relied on it to overcome temptation in the wilderness (Mat. 4:3-11). He made “continuing in his word” an indicator of true discipleship (John 8:31). He tells his disciples of a direct relationship between hearing his word and him being their Shepherd (John 10:27). He goes on to say that in the last day people will be judged by his words (John 12:48). He takes the matter even further by showing that there is a relationship between doing his word and receiving the life to come (John 8:51, 12:50).
On the other hand, that same Jesus taught that loving our fellows is crucial to keeping his word. He tells his followers that they must love one another and it is on that ground that people would know they are his disciples (John 13:35). He presses the matter further by saying that they must love one another as he has loved them (John 13:34). He takes the issue of loving our fellows to perhaps its most challenging level by teaching his followers that they must love even their enemies (Mat. 5:44).
To truly love Jesus Christ, we must love his word and people – at the same time. And, we must balance those two things every day of our lives. Jesus did – as his disciples we must too. We fail as Christians anytime we neglect either of these matters. Jesus wholly embraced the word of God and wholly loved people at the same time. We can never rightly use doing one as an excuse for ignoring or in any way diminishing the other.
However, there is a hierarchy in these matters. For Jesus, our love for God and his word is our first priority. When Jesus identifies the greatest commandment, it is not to “love your neighbor as yourself’.” The first of all commandments in terms of priority is to recognize that: only one is God, and that you must love that One with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:29, 30).” Only after that does Jesus announce that the second commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).” Clearly our first allegiance is forever to God and his word. By that word he has then commanded us to also love one another. (See entire article)