A lawyer approaches Jesus and asks a question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” The lawyer was essentially asking Jesus the seventh question of the New City Catechism: what does God require of us? Jesus responds by quoting from the Old Testament. He quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 as the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Some might notice the change of might in Deuteronomy 6 to mind in Matthew. These two words, while different, both speak to the same reality of engaging all of our mental (mind) energy (might) into loving God. The first and most important requirement of God is that we love Him in such a way that “every faculty and every capacity of our being should express the fullness of our affection for God–the fullness of all the ways that we treasure him (John Piper).” But Jesus does not stop with loving God, but continues with a second requirement of God: ” You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18).” In The Gospel According to Luke, Luke records a different encounter of the same question. In that story, Jesus is asked to elaborate and responds with a story demonstrating that to love our neighbor is to show compassion and mercy to all those we encounter. Love God. Love Neighbor. These two commands are the summary of God’s requirements for His creation.
Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves. What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.