I have the great privilege of being able to hang out and get to know the middle school and high school students on Wednesday nights. We play games, we sing some songs, and we get to spend time studying the Bible.
Over the past couple weeks (give or take a week or two) we have been taking a look at the 10 Commandments. Within these commandments we see a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts.” It’s really easy to look at the commands of God, and say “Ok, well there it is. Just live life and don’t do the things on this list.” Is it bad to obey the 10 commandments? Of course not, but it goes so much deeper than that.
In Matthew 22:36 Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” A question surely asked to try and trap Jesus in some way. But Jesus responds with this, “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. One these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus tells us the greatest commandments come down to the heart and our affections. We could keep all the commandments ever given…but if our hearts in the wrong place then really, what’s the point? What Jesus is getting at is that when we are focused on loving God and treasuring our relationship with Him, and we’re loving people then all else will flow out of it.
Many times we put the rules first and relationship second. But we can not forget that God himself puts the relationship first when He gave the commandments. Exodus 20:2 says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Then the commandments follow. It’s not because we obey our parents that our parents are our parents. It’s not because we obey God that He is our God. The relationship is where it begins.
Let us not forget that no amount of rule keeping saves us. It is only by faith in Christ, and his atoning work that we are saved. Tim Keller puts it best when he says, “Religion says, ‘I obey, therefore I’m loved.’ The Gospel says, ‘I’m loved therefore I obey.’” You are loved. Do you treasure that love? Let the love of God produce in us a love for Him. May He be our treasure as we live day by day. Lets make Him the very first in our lives…and let all else flow from that.