Matthew 22:34-40 (CEB)

34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”


The word “commandments” seems to have evolved over the years. In our modern language, it’s synonyms are words like “decrees, mandates, orders” – but that’s not the way any of the commandments, whether it be the Great Commandment seen here or the 10 Commandments, was ever taught to me. I was always taught to look at it more like “cheat sheets” in order to have the best life.

Our lives are better when we love ourselves and others.

Our lives are better when we practice Sabbath.

Our lives are better when we remain truthful.

Similarly to the first of the Ten Commandments where God says, “You must have no other gods before me,” here Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God. Plain and simple. That is to come before anything else. This isn’t because God has some sort of need to be the center of attention. This is actually for us, not God.

God, our Creator, our Shepherd, is inviting us to live in a world that doesn’t revolve around ourselves. God, who is love and grace and relationship, wants to relieve of us the pressure and stress of that and by putting God first, everything that God is and has created comes from that. We can then live in a world that doesn’t solely rely or depend on just us, but everyone and everything together.

By Rachel Callender

For Pondering & Prayer

What in your life is better when God comes first? In what areas of your life do you struggle to put God at the center?

Prayer: Centering God, we thank you for the gift of your Word and the many ways it guides our life. Today, we ask that we think a little less of ourselves and a little more of you. We invite you into the many tasks throughout our day, the large and the mundane, so that you may live at the center of our hearts. We pray this in the name of you Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.