Matthew 22:34-40 (NRSV)

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 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.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:36 (NRSV)

36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

DEVOTION – Jeral  Williams (Alabama)

Recently, along with my wife and several members of our church, I committed to reading the Bible from beginning to end.  As I slogged my way through the Old Testament, I grew weary of the repeated prophecies of God’s anger and harsh judgment.  I looked with great anticipation toward the love expressed in the New Testament.

Then I asked an important question, “What made God so angry in the Old Testament?”  With that question in mind, I read the Old Testament with more interest and soon discovered at least three major reasons for God’s anger: the worship of other gods; injustice to the oppressed, the poor and the aliens; and being haughty or self-righteous.

I finally realized that the nature of God revealed in the Old Testament is the same nature as revealed by Christ when he stated that all of the law and the commandments are summed up in the exhortation to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  By placing God first, caring for the poor, and releasing our pride and self-righteousness, we can begin to live according to God’s commandments.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today I will honor God above all else.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us keep you first and foremost in our lives.  Open our eyes to new and better ways to help our neighbors, and give us the strength to properly love ourselves.  Amen.