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Our group-writing topic for this month is advice, and I thought it only right to begin with the very most important advice that I or anyone else could give. It was, of course, given by Jesus:
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 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.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Those two commandments are completely the key to living a fulfilled and fulfilling life. The interesting and challenging part is that much of fulfilling the first – loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength- is wrapped up in fulfilling the second, as explicated in the Tanakh, the Sermon on the Mount, in the various Pauline, Petrine, Jacobine and Johannine epistles.
“He who loves me is he who keeps My commandments,” Jesus said, and I do love him, so I strive and struggle to keep those commandments. Afflicted as I am with tendencies toward the full complement of human vices, this means often that I come back in contrition and ask for the grace to live beyond the influence of lust, rage, greed, and self-centered thinking. It is easier in some areas than in others.
Loving my enemies has consistently been the hardest one. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus did not say “pretend they are not your enemies” or “the harm they intend you or inflict on you does not matter.” He only commands us to love them, which means seeking their moral good and their salvation. Not pretending the evil they do is good.
The evils we do aren’t good either, of course, but we are not meant to live in condemnation under their shadow forever, either. My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.Published in