Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.

 
 
 

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Thought for the Evening
6-23

THE TWO GREATEST COMMANDMENTS

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus said that upon the two greatest commandments hung both the Law God gave to Israel and everything spoken by the prophets -Mt. 22:40). The first of these commandments is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy strength and with all thy soul and with all thy mind." And the second commandment is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." These two commandments are equally holy, equally of God, and are equally to be observed, but they do not possess equal power over the soul. There are times when they may actually come into conflict with each other, and in every such case, the first takes precedence over the second. That is why Jesus called it "the first and the great commandment". What we should understand by the word "greatest" is that it is to be fulfilled before any other and, if need be, instead of any other.

In practical terms, to keep the first and greatest commandment means that whenever God speaks, His word is to be embraced and obedience is to be yielded without regard to love of neighbor or of anything else, including love of self. Loving God with all one's heart means to obey God without reservation or consideration of consequences. He who hesitates does not love God with all his heart. When God plainly speaks, then he who fears, he who worries, or even he who questions, does not love God with all his heart.

A wise man understands that "love thy neighbor as thyself" is a commandment that can only be kept rightly after one's obligation to keep the greatest commandment has been fulfilled. The one who fails to respond whole-heartedly to a word from God for fear that his obedience may alienate others, has failed to keep either of the two greatest commandments. "Love thy neighbor" is certainly to be done; it is the commandment of God. But it can be done rightly only after one has fully obeyed the greatest commandment. This is what Preacher Clark did.

Often, when people thought he was unloving, it was only because he had not yet finished establishing his commitment to God by keeping the greatest commandment first. That done, he had great love of his neighbors and demonstrated it bountifully. Some people, however, do not like waiting in line.

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