And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And 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.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 25:35-40

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A preacher in a small town was giving his sermon on loving one’s enemies. He asked the congregation, “how many of you are willing to forgive your enemies?”

About half of the people in the room raised their hand, and he went on with his message.

Ten minutes later, he asked again, “raise your hand if you’re willing to forgive your enemies.” And the number of people who raised their hand increased significantly.

He went on with his message for another fifteen minutes, and before he concluded, he pressed the question one last time. This time everyone but an elderly woman in the back raised their hand. He then asked her to join him in the front, and asked, “my dear sister, are you not willing to forgive your enemies?” 

“I don’t have any.” she shrugged.

“This is very unusual,” he replied, “How old are you?” 

“95.” 

“Well then,” the preacher said impressed, “please tell us how you’ve lived this long and don’t have enemies.” 

“I outlived them.” She said.

When establishing the second greatest commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, Jesus didn’t stop there. In Luke chapter 6, he goes a step further, and instructs us to love our enemies. He raised the bar even higher!

Fulfilling the greatest commandment to love the Lord our God might not require much of an effort for us—what’s not to love?! He is a good, gracious, and merciful God.

But we often forget that attached to the greatest commandment, is the way we can loudly profess our love for God: by loving our neighbor.

Dr. Ed Young signature