36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:34-46)
Jesus revealed that all of the Old Testament laws were designed to instruct us how to love God and love others. Therefore, the two commands that dealt directly with loving God and others (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5) were the most important.
The religious leaders had become so obsessed with keeping every minor detail of the law that they had lost sight of its ultimate purpose. They neither loved God nor their fellow man, yet they thought they were keeping the Law. The same thing is happening today. Some of the cruelest acts have been done in the name of the Lord by those who thought they were defending God’s commandments. However, if we violate one of the two greatest commandments in an effort to enforce some other commandment, we are misapplying God’s Word just as these religious Jews were.
The Old Testament Law and the New Testament concept of grace compel us to love God and all people. However, the Old Testament Law motivated men to love God and other people through fear of punishment if they failed to comply, whereas the grace given to us in the New Testament is to love others unconditionally as God loves us.
It is possible to act holy but not love God or people, but it is impossible for God’s love not to produce holiness in a person. Look at all your relationships through the eyes of God’s unconditional love today. As you love, you will be holy.