Monday Meditations: Matthew 22:38-40

Sheila Dougal-2

Welcome to the late night launch of Monday Meditations. I decided to start a regular series every Monday sharing thoughts I’ve been chewing on after hearing or reading a passage in the Bible for me, and for you.  I’ve found when I share something I’m thinking about, particularly concerning the Bible, it sinks in deeper.

But, since it’s nearly Tuesday, I’ll make this 11:18 PM meditation short.

In Matthew 22:38-40, Jesus, answering a testy lawyer trying to trip Jesus up by asking him to pick the greatest commandment in God’s law, did not go to the 10 commandments.  He went to the heart of what Moses told the people of Israel when God gave them the 10 commandments.  The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is:

“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 first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

This deserves a long, not short, late night meditation. But nevertheless, I’ll sip from it’s abundance before I go to bed.

God’s laws- You shall have no other gods before me… You shall not murder… Honor your father and mother, etc.- are like low hanging fruit on an enormous tree that can only grow when a tiny mustard-seed sized gift of faith is planted in a humbled, receiving heart.

A person, like me, might say she doesn’t murder or steal or commit adultery, but she can’t say she loves the God who made her with all their heart, nor can she say she loves her neighbor as herself.

If you never murder anyone, or steal anything or commit adultery, but you don’t have faith that sees Christ as your hope for peace and relationship with God as he intended, your ability to not murder is fruit growing on the tree of knowledge of good and evil and it only leads to death.  But if you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and you’ve been given eyes to see the beauty and worth of Christ and you love him, the fruit of loving your neighbor that produces a life perpetually pruned of self-righteousness will be life giving and reproductive.

God did not intend for us to just jump through hoops to look like we are pretty good people.  He intended for us to love him and love others.  Without a whole new life growing in us, we would never do that.

The first and greatest commandment and the second that is like it are impossible without God miraculously giving me faith. The faith he gave me to believe Jesus is producing a tree of righteousness in me that has all kinds of fruit of His Spirit hanging from it.

Thank you Father for giving me eyes to see Jesus for who he is and to love him. Produce the life-giving fruit of your Holy Spirit in me for your name’s sake and for my neighbor’s sake. Amen.

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