Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
In a recent conversation, a new friend and I were talking about the fruit of the Spirit–specifically, self control. I said, “Don’t you have to work your way up through the first fruits before you get to self control?” We laughed a little, because with self control, I think it would make all the other fruits fall easily into place. But as I consider this verse above, and how simple and challenging it is all at once, I think of the first fruit: love. Were the fruits listed in any intentional, particular order? I don’t know. But love is a very good starting place.
I tell my kids frequently enough that they’ll probably say it to their kids one day, “Loving your neighbor starts at home with your family.” (And some days, the further outside my family I go, the harder it is to love.)
Application and prayer
Lord, I can only imagine what my home would be like if I could approach a cranky kid the way I would like to be approached when I’m cranky. Too often, it’s hindsight that tells me how to handle a situation. And often enough, it’s hindsight before I remember it.
Can we start with today, Lord? Today, could you whisper to me, “love,” when I am faced with pressures and frustrations? Today, could you say to me, “love,” when I move about life as business as usual? Can you remind me in my home, in my neighborhood, in my community, out in this world, and in my heart and soul and mind to love?
I don’t want to forget.