“…the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”
During Sunday’s message, Matt explored Paul’s statement that “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” It just so happens that today’s reading from Mark has Jesus saying the same exact thing.
28One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; 33and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Notice what Jesus says here?
“There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe asked for one, but Jesus gave two. Two that are really one. Love God, love your neighbor. Love God? Love your neighbor. As the scribe hits the nail on the head, “this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” All the faith, all the words, all the prayers, all the beliefs, all the ideas – without the love – doesn’t mean much. As Paul reiterated in 1 Corinthians 13, without love – it’s nothing. And just wait until we get to John’s first letter. Oh, and James. He has a thing or two to say about faith without works (of love).
You just can’t do the vertical without the horizontal. It just does’t work. It just doesn’t count.
And you need the vertical do to the horizontal. As we love deeper, and wider, and in ways that challenge us, we find that’s true. So if you didn’t get a chance to check out the message from yesterday, you should check it out and refocus on the only thing that counts.