What Really Matters
By Hal Lindsey
What is important? When you boil it all down, what matters most? Everyone has an opinion. But thankfully, someone once asked Jesus. And He gave us the definitive answer.
In Matthew 22, the Sadducee sect used their best argument in an attempt to trip up Jesus. The Lord gave a deft answer, destroying the false doctrine on which their question was based. Then it was the Pharisees’ turn. Matthew 22:34-35 says, “When the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him.” [NASB]
So, they huddled up. They tried to think of a question that would trap Jesus into an answer they could use against Him. They sent out an expert in the law with their question. In verse 36, he asked it. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” [NASB]
Before we look at the Lord’s answer, think about the significance of that question. The lawyer was a Jewish believer. He believed that God had spoken through Moses and the prophets. He wanted to understand what was and is the most important thing in life. His question gets to the heart of everything. He was asking Jesus to explain the point of human existence.
Jesus gave Him the perfect answer. “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40 NASB]
Jesus didn’t quote any of the Ten Commandments. But if you compare what He said to those famous commands, you will find them in perfect harmony. The Ten Commandments can be broken into two groups. The first four deal with our relationship with God. The last six deal with our relationships with people.
Jesus divided His answer the same way. He referred the lawyer to Deuteronomy 6:5 where it says to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Then He directed the lawyer’s attention to Leviticus 19:18 — “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus finished by saying, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” If you love God completely and perfectly, you will fulfill all the law regarding God. Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and you will fulfill all the law regarding other people.
I know some say they don’t really love themselves, but when those same people are hungry, they try to feed themselves. When they are cold, they try to clothe themselves. When they are tired, they try to give themselves a place to rest. When they are fearful, they seek refuge for themselves. Love others like that.
Has anyone ever done it? Have anyone ever loved God or his neighbors like these scriptures say to love them, and has he done it all day of every day for his entire life? Only one Person in all of history perfectly fulfilled those two basic commands — Jesus. That’s why to be clean before God, we must accept the gift of His righteousness. And remember that it is a gift, something He offers freely.
Both of the Lord’s answers center on love. That is our purpose. God made us to love — to love Him and to love others. What’s really important? Love God and love people.