As I wrap up my week’s worth of goal setting for change, I come to the most important consideration: obedience to God…what does it look like?
In Luke 10, an expert in the law asks Jesus how to gain eternal life. Jesus turns to his opponent, asking him to summarize the Law on the topic. The expert’s reply meet with Jesus’ approval, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Luke 10:27).
We see this same refrain in Matthew 22:37-40 and in Mark 12:30-31. In fact, Jesus says, “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matt 22:40). Recently, I wrote about the Luke version of this passage for the online community DeeperWaters.us where we are reading through the Bible in a year, with all of the books in chronological order, using The One Year Chronological Bible, NLT. This is a great way to read through the Bible BTW.
As I read through chapter 10 in Luke, I saw something that was not recorded in the other two versions, something very powerful. Where Matthew and Mark move on past this encounter to share other teachings, in Luke, Jesus delves deeper into the meaning of the most important kind of obedience: love for God and for our neighbors–He immediately gives perfect illustrations of what each kind of love is (or isn’t).
When the expert in the Law asks, “Who is my neighbor?” he sets Jesus up to give one of his best loved teachings, The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). The parable teaches that love for others should be wholehearted, impartial, and self-sacrificing.
Jesus’ teaching was not new or revolutionary. The experts in the law knew full well that God has always required his people to, “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [their] God” (Micah 6:8).
In fact, the commandment to love your neighbor as you love yourself was given to the children of Israel way back in Leviticus 19:18. The commandment to love God first, and with your whole heart and life, was foundational to Hebrew law and daily prayer and worship; it comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and appears in many other places as well.
First, Jesus gives the parable to show how we are to love people, by serving them humbly.
Then, Jesus visits Mary and Martha. Mary sits at His feet while Martha scurries around, resenting and criticizing her sister. Jesus chastises a grouchy Martha, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Second, Jesus explains how we are to love God, by choosing Him before every other distraction.
The Lord knows how we tend to extremes–if we have to choose between the Mary way and the Martha way, God is clear: sacrificial love for people is commanded, but nothing, not even serving others, comes before God.
As wives and mothers, our lives often revolve around serving others. Too much busyness can lead to an attitude like Martha’s: critical and self-pitying. Focusing on Jesus, keeping the Lord first in our hearts, is the antidote to our weariness. Loving God best is the key to loving others well. His love gives us the grace we may lack, enabling us to obey.