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God’s Commands: Love God, Love Others

Understanding God’s two greatest commandments

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: How can we obey God’s commandments? This online Bible study shows how to please God by following his command to love God and to love others.

Part 2 of a 3-part series on “Successful Christian Living”

Part 1      Part 3

Loving God and Loving Others — Introduction

Throughout the Bible, we are told to obey God. But what does that mean? You could try to answer this question by listing everything the Bible says to do and not to do, including all the instructions in the New Testament, then try to do everything on the list. Your list would have a lot of instructions and commands. If that’s all you did, no matter how hard you tried to remember and follow each one of them, you would soon be overwhelmed.

Jesus told us how to please God

Jesus showed us how to please God, and how to understand the Bible’s commands and instructions, when he answered the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36).

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

These two key commandments—to love God and to love others—show us what is most important to God.

Plus, they help us understand what’s under all the other commands and instructions in the Bible. These additional commands and instructions help us know how to love God and how to love others. Without them, we wouldn’t know what love really is.

For example, if the Bible only contained the two great commandments to love God and others, and nothing else, you might think, “I love someone, so I will have sex with him or her.” However, if you also read what the Bible says about sexual immorality, you would think something very different: “I won’t have sex with this person because I want the best for him or her.”

What do you think?

1. What are the two greatest commandments?

2. Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). What do you think Jesus meant by that?

3. Read Luke 10:29-37. According to this passage, who is your neighbor?

The first commandment

The first commandment—”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)—says a lot. It means much more than going to church every week. And it means much more than being “religious.”
As you continue reading, you will read steps to help you grow in your love for God. This is not a checklist of things to do. Instead, it is a list of ideas to help you grow in love with God.

Enjoy God’s love.

The more you understand God’s love for you, the more you will love God. Walking with him is much more than following a set of rules. It is basking in his love and enjoying an intimate relationship with him.

Related: God’s love for us

Make this prayer your personal prayer:

Read the following prayer taken from Ephesians 3:16-19. (I’ve changed the pronouns to make it a personal prayer.)

I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Key steps to loving God:

  • Read the Bible daily.
  • Praise and worship God throughout the day.
  • Thank God for your salvation and the many ways he has blessed you.
  • Ask for and receive forgiveness for your failures and sins.
  • When making choices, ask yourself, “Would this please God?”
  • Pray to grow closer to God. Pray for:
    • A stronger desire to read the Bible.
    • Greater understanding of the Bible.
    • A deeper trust in God.
    • Contentment with what God has provided.
    • Freedom from fear.

Make it personal

4. Which of the previous ideas will help you love God more? Why will this help?

The second commandment

Now let’s look at the second commandment—to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). When Jesus used the word “neighbor,” he didn’t just mean someone who lives next door. He meant anyone with whom you have contact. He even meant your enemies (Matthew 5:44).

When Jesus said to love your neighbor “as yourself,” he was saying to love other people.

What is love?

Learning how to love others is a life-long process. A good place to start is 1 Corinthians 13. In this passage, Paul teaches us that love is not sweet, emotional feelings for others (although those are wonderful). Instead, love is shown in our attitudes and actions. In essence, love is a choice.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Key steps to loving others:

  • Pray for others.
  • Spend time with others.
  • Serve others.
  • Encourage others.
  • Tell others about Jesus.

Make it personal

5. Which of these steps will help you love others more?

6. What makes it difficult for you to love others? How can you overcome this?

Related: Should you love yourself first?

Pray to love God and love others every day

Living by the two greatest commandments does not come naturally for most of us. We often forget them. Or we give in to our stubbornness, selfishness, or irritation.

Since we know we can’t successfully follow the two main commandments on our own, it’s a good idea to ask God every morning to help us love him and others more—and then to pray the same thing as you go through the day.

What do you think?

7. When is a good time for you to pray to love God and others more?

8. How can you remind yourself to pray at this time?

9. What are potential obstacles that might prevent you from praying at this time? How can you overcome these obstacles?

Related: Who Do You Think You Are?

Memory verse

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Personal application

1. What did Jesus say are the two greatest commandments?

2. Why are there so many other instructions and commandments in the Bible?

3. Jesus said to love your neighbor. Who is your neighbor?

4. What are three things you can do to love God more?

5. Ask yourself: How well do I love other people?

Do I feel anger or hatred for certain people? __ Yes   __ No

When I am with others, do I think about how I can bless them? __ Yes   __ No

Do other people experience my love when I am with them? __ Yes   __ No

Do I reject certain types of people? __ Yes   __ No

Do I complain about other people? __ Yes   __ No

Do I criticize or ridicule anyone when talking about him or her? __ Yes   __ No

Do I pray for my enemies and those who mistreat me? __ Yes   __ No

When discussing problems with others, do I speak respectfully? __ Yes   __ No

Do I forgive others? __ Yes   __ No

6. Think of one person you have not loved and say a silent prayer for him or her.

7. Does the fact that God loves you help you love him and others? Why or why not?

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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