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“Which Commandment Is First of All?”

“Which Commandment Is First of All?”

What does it take to please God? Is there an endless code of rules that we must follow? Thankfully, the answer is no. According to God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, what God requires of us can be summed up in a single word.​—Read Mark 12:28-31.

Consider first the setting of Jesus’ words. He was teaching in the temple on Nisan 11, a few days before his death. His enemies tried to trip him up by asking him some controversial questions. Each time, he silenced them with his answers. Then, Jesus was asked this question: “Which commandment is first of all?”​—Verse 28.

That was a challenging question. Some Jews debated which of the more than 600 laws that made up the Mosaic Law was first, or most important. Others, it seems, contended that all the laws were equally important and that it was wrong to give more weight to some than to others. How would Jesus respond to the question?

In reply, Jesus mentioned not one but two commands. First, he said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” (Verse 30; Deuteronomy 6:5) The terms “heart,” “mind,” “soul,” and “strength” are not mutually exclusive. * The meaning is: Love for Jehovah must involve the whole person, all his faculties and resources. One Bible reference work puts it this way: “God is to be loved completely and totally.” If you thus love God, you will do your best to live each day in a way that wins his smile of approval.​—1 John 5:3.

Second, Jesus said: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Verse 31; Leviticus 19:18) Love of God and love of neighbor are really inseparable. The second is a by-product of the first. (1 John 4:20, 21) If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will treat them the way we want them to treat us. (Matthew 7:12) We thereby show that we love the God who made us​—and them—​in his image.​—Genesis 1:26.

All that Jehovah requires of his worshippers can be summed up in a single word: love

How important are the commands to love God and neighbor? “There is no other commandment greater than these,” said Jesus. (Verse 31) In the parallel account, Jesus said that all the other commandments hang on these two.​—Matthew 22:40.

Pleasing God is not complicated. All that he requires of us can be summed up in a single word: love. That has always been​—and will always be—​the essence of true worship. But love is not just a matter of words or feelings; it is expressed in action. (1 John 3:18) Why not learn how you can cultivate and demonstrate your love for Jehovah, the God who “is love”?​—1 John 4:8.

Suggested Bible reading for March

Mark 9-16Luke 1-6

^ par. 4 In the Bible, the word “soul” refers to the entire person. Therefore “soul” can embrace “heart,” “mind,” and “strength.”