Matthew 22:34-40

You’re driving late at night when you come to a four-way stop. There’s no one around. Do you stop completely? Or just slow down?

When a lawyer asks Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” some commentators say we should read this as “which kind of law is the greatest commandment?” since some Jewish scholars classified the hundreds of existing laws into little and greater ones.

A portion of religious teachers believed that by observing the right principle, a person could discount the rest of the law. So, at that late-night intersection, you might choose the principle of being cautious rather than the law of obeying traffic signs.

The Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Deut 5) may be the logical place to find the answer to the lawyer’s question. The first commandment God gives is “you shall have no other gods before me.” The second is to not make or worship idols.

Jesus begins to answer the question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5: love God with all of our being—heart, soul, and might. This emphasizes love rather than obedience. This pays less attention to our external actions and more to our internal motivations.

Then Jesus adds an asterisk. Loving our neighbor as much as ourselves (Lev 19:18) should be considered right alongside this first commandment. For many, the question may not be “Do I love my neighbor?” but “Do I even know my neighbor?” More than a half-
century after Mr. Rogers first sang “Won’t you be my neighbor?” a 2019 Pew Research study reports that only 57 percent of Americans report that they know at least some of their neighbors. This week we consider where loving our neighbors will lead us.

Consider

Write down the names of your neighbors. Are they in your contacts? When was the last time you spoke to each of them?

Pray

Lord, give me a greater awareness this week of those who are my neighbors—at home, at work, and in my community. Amen.



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