ESOCS Devotional 7 June 2023
MEMORY VERSE: “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 neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater.” Mark 12:30-31
TEXT: ST. MARK 12:28-34
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 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.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
The Scribe; who asked Jesus this question about which is the first commandment of all, literally which is the most important of all the commandments, was very satisfied and agreeable to Jesus’ answer (v 32-33). However, the response of Jesus to his commendation is worthy of note: “thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (v 34). This means that this scribe was only near to the kingdom of God but was not in the kingdom. Nearly cannot kill a bird is a well-worn axiom that aptly applies here. He had sufficient knowledge of the scripture but that did not avail him eternal life. He was theologically sound but spiritually barren. Knowledge of the word of God alone does not translate a person into a kingdom citizen, but application of the word, and living by the word does. The devil and his demons know the scriptures well but they are none of Christ’s members.
To know that we should love the Lord God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength is not all that matters, but to obey and do so is what makes us members of the household of God. Jesus said, “If ye Love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). And again, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my father’s commandments and abide in his Love” (1 Jn. 15:10). The Apostle, John also wrote in his epistle: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous” (1 Jn. 5:3). From these and more Johannine scriptures, it is well established that to love God is to keep His commandments. When we love Him by engaging all our heart, soul, mind and strength to keep His commandments, we will find ourselves walking with him; we will begin to have experiential knowledge of him, and will crave to know Him more and more. He will be pleased to reveal more of himself to us as we dutifully keep his commandments from a loving heart.
To love God is to do his will as Jesus demonstrated in the parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28-31). No child can claim to love his father and disobey him. To love God is to engage all your strength in his service. Let God take the pre-eminence in your heart and mind. He will have the first and best part of your heart, nothing less. Whether in time of plenty, prosperity, joy, famine, tribulation, or in distress, let us remain inseparable from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:35).
Loving God in practice also enables us to love our neighbours. We cannot rightly claim to love God when we hate our brothers (1 Jn. 4:20).
- To fully experience God, make him number one by simple obedience to His word.
- Lord, I pray thee to fill my heart with love for thee to keep thy commandments.
FURTHER READING: John 14:21-23; 1 John 4:7-13
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ESOCS Devotional 7 June 2023