Whenever a person’s time on earth becomes short, they have a greater urgency to say things that should have been said and do things they should have been doing all along. We would call those things the essentials things.
I was just watching a minister that has been going through a difficult struggle with his health. It was apparent to me that he was saying things that were essential. So, I began to think what I would say if this was the last message I wrote to you. What are the things that are essential? As I was thinking about them and praying about this month’s message, this was what came into my spirit.
One day, toward the end of Jesus’ time on earth a religious lawyer asked Jesus, which is the great commandment? In other words, what commandment is essential. He was asking to prioritize the law. Jesus’ reply was something that this lawyer had heard many times. “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40)
The first essential thing in life is that we love God. Please think about this. Everyone was created for the purpose first and foremost to have a love relationship with God. That is what He has wanted from the very beginning. That is why Jesus died. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our minds. Those three areas of our lives are where all our motivations and actions begin. When we love God in these areas, we are giving ourselves over to Him in these areas. The love that Jesus is talking about is not just a feeling that comes and goes. It is a love that gives itself away. It is a love that yields itself to God. When we love God, we yield our thoughts to Him. When we love God, we yield our emotions and will to Him and we begin to do what He wants us to do. When we love God, we yield our futures to Him. This is the most essential thing in our lives as believers. It is the foremost of all the things that God has asked us for. The word foremost tells us this is the most important and needed thing in our lives.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. Then He said that the next essential thing was like the first. It is needed, essential that we love our neighbor as ourselves. These essential commands are alike in this, they both are asking us to love. Again, this love means a yielding or giving type of love. What makes this essential command different? It is the object we love. This time Jesus is telling us to love our neighbor. He said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus was not telling us to love our neighbor more than ourselves. He told us it is essential or needed that we love our neighbor in the same degree that we love ourselves.
All the things we do for ourselves we need to do for our neighbor. Our neighbor is anyone who is close to us. Do you watch out for yourself? Then you should be watchful of your neighbor. Then we should provide for our neighbor.
These are the things that Jesus thought are essential. Let’s make them essential in our lives.