Words to Live By :: By Nathele Graham

A scribe came to Jesus and asked “…Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28b)

Once again, the people who should have known better were trying to trap Jesus. The Pharisees had just asked if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar and the Sadducees had asked Him about who a woman’s husband would be in heaven if she had been widowed multiple times. Oddly enough, the Sadducees didn’t even believe there would be a resurrection. Then one of the scribes wanted to know about the commandments.

“And Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God  is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:29-31)

Jesus quoted this from Deuteronomy so the scribes couldn’t dispute this. These words  are as true today as when Moses first spoke them. A Christian is to first love God, then love others. These are words to live by but they aren’t being heeded by many Christians today.

The world seems to be going berserk and many who claim to be Christians are just as berserk. Anger is everywhere and men’s hearts are waxing cold. Brothers and sisters remember: God is love.

God IS love, and we need to allow His love to show in all we say and do. The first commandment that Jesus named is regarding God. Our understanding of God is reflected in our relationship with Him.

“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

There is only one God and there’s none like Him. The word “LORD” is translated from the Hebrew word “Yehovah.” It means “The Existing One.” Yehovah had no beginning and will have no end. The word “God” is “Elohiym” which is a masculine noun and the “iym” ending indicates it’s a plural noun.

In Hebrew, a plural means there are at least three parts. When referring to God this indicates the three personalities of God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) are one. The Trinity is clearly in the Scripture. The first use of the word Elohiym is in Genesis chapter one and it tells us that Elohiym created everything that exists by speaking it into existence . The Gospel of John ties this all together:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

The Word became flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ. The LORD our God is one LORD, and Jesus is God the Son.

God created everything, including humans. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden where all of his needs were filled. God gave Adam one rule.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

This rule was given to Adam before Eve was created and it was up to Adam to adhere to God’s rule. Adam needed a mate and God met this need in a special way.

“And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Genesis 2:20-22)

Adam was a direct creation of God, but Eve was taken out of Adam. Not only did God create Eve to be Adam’s companion, but this established the one man/one woman marriage.

Then it happened. Satan entered into the picture. Eve was deceived into eating the very fruit that God said not to eat.

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

Satan’s lies will befuddle anyone who doesn’t adhere to God’s Word. Eve ate the fruit and then talked Adam into eating. God knew what had happened, but the finger pointing began. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. The truth is that instead of loving God with all their heart, soul, and might each made their own choice to sin.

Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and fellowship with God was broken. Since then sin has kept us from fellowship with God. Cain killed Abel, people multiplied and chose to sin through demonic worship and activities, and Satan continues to lie. Though sin has reigned throughout time, God wanted fellowship to be restored. He had a plan. The first step in that plan was to separate a people to eventually bring salvation to this fallen world.

“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14)

Before God called Abraham there was no distinction between the various nations or ethnic groups, but through Abraham’s descendents the Jewish people were separated and the Messiah would be born. God would give the Law to the Jewish people through Moses and this would further separate them and teach mankind about how God views sin.

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:24-25)

The Law was filled with rituals and animal sacrifice. In and of itself, the Law could not save anyone, but it pointed to salvation through the coming Messiah. The plan had always been that God would step into His creation and become the once for all sacrifice. God’s perfect love for us is seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

That’s perfect love. Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This brings us to the second part of Jesus” answer to the scribe.

“And the second is like, namely this, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12:31)

How do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? By treating them as we would want to be treated. When Paul and Silas were asked by a jailer what he must do to be saved, they told him to believe on Jesus.

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)

Could the jailers faith save his household? Each person must make his own choice to accept or reject Jesus. The jailers wife, children, and servants each had to make their own decision in order to be saved, but if they saw the jailer’s life changed through Christ they would come to their own faith. Accepting Christ’s shed blood for salvation should change a person and that change should be noticeable to people around you.

The way you treat people should become more loving, forgiving, and kind. We don’t know what kind of man that jailer was, but he had a job that would harden him. Paul and Silas had spent their night in jail singing praises to the Lord and didn’t show bitterness. Then, there was an earthquake which would have allowed the prisoners to escape and the jailer would have been executed.

Instead of escaping, Paul, Silas, and all the prisoners remained which was an example to the jailer of God’s love. These two men treated the jailer in the way that they would have wanted to be treated had they been in each other’s sandals. The jailer saw their example and believed. If he followed their example of how to treat others  then his household would come to know Jesus through his actions.

Nobody wants to be mistreated and most people take pretty good care of themselves. When we get hungry we eat, when we’re dirty we bathe. If you see someone in need, help them. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, but do all things for the Lord.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Don’t “do unto others” in order to gain their praise, but do good works in Jesus’ name so God will be glorified. That’s how we show our love for God to others. Our actions just may be the example they need in order to give their life to Christ. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Quite often Christians focus on missionary work or food kitchens to reach out to the unsaved. This shows God’s love to lost people who may not even know they’re lost. Too often we forget to show love to fellow Christians.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

John wrote this to Christians and used the words “brethren” and “brother.” This indicates he’s telling Christians to take care of fellow Christians. The first Christians were severely persecuted and they helped each other. That has changed over the years. It’s easy to give money to a mission group to go somewhere else to help the unsaved, but we forget the needs of Christians in our own community or congregation.

“And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21)

In loving others as we love ourselves, don’t forget the local Christians in need.

“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4)

Every word of the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is for our instruction. If we love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength we will naturally love others as we love ourselves. Live by these words and you can’t go wrong.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham




Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed).