The Most Important Commandment | Mark 12

Welcome to Real Life. What does God want from me? Does he want me to clean up my act, get to church, and serve my fellow man? What’s most important?

Like a modern political debate, the Pharisees and teachers of the law were posing questions to Jesus in order to trap him into saying something blasphemous, worthy of arrest, or even death. However, one of these teachers recognized the wisdom in Jesus’ answers. He posed a sincere question, 

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”[1]
Behave well, attend church, know and follow God’s commands, donate money, volunteer, serve your fellow man. I often make the mistake of thinking that the Christian life is all about offerings and sacrifices. But, the Pharisees fulfilled these obligations and were condemned by Jesus as hypocrites.

What is it that God wants most from me? Love. Yet, even my view of love is tainted by this world. How do I love God? Don’t my offerings and sacrifices prove that I love him? Not necessarily. I can perform well for God with a heart far from God. Lots of people live good lives without loving God. The Pharisees did. Many atheists do. Even some Christians do. What God wants most is my heart.

For a few years, I had a hard time loving God. I had focused my spiritual life on offerings and sacrifices. I am a doer by nature. I got so busy doing that I neglected the critical thing—loving. Like a wife, who after years of raising kids, maintaining the house, and making a living, wakes up one morning to realize she no longer loves her husband, I neglected relationship. I spent little time seeking God and enjoying his presence. I thought he wanted my offerings and sacrifices. All along, God was after my heart.

How do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? I’m learning.

  • My heart – is my desire. Give me a yearning for you, Lord, to know and love you more. Capture my heart! 
  • My soul – is the deepest part of my being. Soul mates reveal their deepest secrets and longings. I pour out my heart to the Lord. But, I also listen to what’s on his heart. 
  • My mind – is my intellect. I cannot truly love someone I don’t know. God reveals himself through his Word. Every day, I love God more as I read, study, and meditate on Scripture.
  • My strength – and yes, love leads to action. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Love motivates. God’s love for me motivated him to give and sacrifice. My love for God motivates me to give and sacrifice. But, love comes first.

Capture my heart, dear Lord. Teach me how to love you well. 

Taking it further …

  • Have you neglected your relationship with God? Try Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
  • What have you learned about loving God? I’d like to hear your comments. (Hopefully, my blog's comments section will work this week!)
[1] Mark 12:28-34
LOVE ME image, freeware from


  1. So many people want to make God's message complicated but Jesus simplified it in the scripture you so aptly refer to: Love God, love others. Too many Christians forget this and somehow think they are supposed to condemn. I've done that myself and I always have to remind myself of this passage. Thank you, Peggi. I love the simplicity and humility of your posts.

    1. Hi Linnea,
      Sorry for my late reply. I'm having trouble accessing my comments section.
      I appreciate your thoughts on simplicity. We sure can complicate things!
      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, friend!


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