We believe our responsibility to God can be summed up: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
When I hear Martina McBride sing Love’s the Only House, I’m reminded in a contemporary way of this important foundational belief. She sings:
“You drive three miles from all this prosperity
Down across the river and you see a ghetto there
An' We got children walking around with guns
And they got knives and drugs and pain to spare
And here I am in my clean, white shirt, With a little money in my pocket and a nice warm home
And we got teenagers walking around in a culture of darkness Living together alone...all ll I could say is
Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.
Yea, love’s the only house big enough for all the pain.
And I can't explain it, and I can't understand
But I'll come down and get my hands dirty and together we'll make a stand.”
Loving God with all of who you are and loving your neighbor as yourself are the greatest commands (Matt 22:34-40)! There is a difference between reducing the demands and summing them up. To reduce is to speak as if other commands are unimportant as long as you do the significant. To sum them up is to state them in a concise way. That’s what Jesus did.
Loving God sums up the commands regarding our response to him. John’s readers needed to remember “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3). The Romans needed to how love sums up our commands regarding others, so Paul wrote to them, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:8-10).
When you practice lovingkindness with others you fulfill the law. Sometimes that may mean carrying their burden, or being merciful, or doing for them what you would want done for yourself. Consider what you are doing and ask yourself if it is the way of love. That’s Life at Work!