Sunday School Material 5-25-14: The Greatest Commandment

(Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Mark 12:28-34; 5/25/14)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is God’s people should focus on loving God and others, as they love themselves. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to focus all that we have on loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

Body:

Read Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I. Love in the Old Testament. In Sunday School material Leviticus urges God’s people to love one another. This is as opposed to seeking revenge or bearing a grudge.

The text in Deuteronomy urges God’s people to love God with all that they have - heart, soul, and strength. They are to teach and impress God’s commandments on their children on a daily basis.

Applications -

- Obedience instead of revenge and grudges. Notice in vs. 18 that there is a strong urging to avoid the temptation to seek revenge or hold a grudge. On the contrary, God’s people are to love one another because God said so.

First, people can behave in ways that make us want to seek revenge and hold grudges. They can lie on you and to you. They can mistreat you.

Second, instead of seeking revenge or holding grudges, we are called to love one another. We are called to exercise longsuffering kindness. This should not be confused with enjoying their company nor trusting them.  

Third, we are commanded to do it by God. We are not left to do it, if we feel like it. Let’s work on loving one another because God said so, even when we are tempted to do otherwise.

- Loving God. Notice in vs. 5 that the point is to love God with all that you have, not to try to dissect the differences among heart, soul, strength, and later on mind and understanding (the Sunday School material does give some interesting ideas about these facets of the human personality).

We should love God with our emotions, intellect, will, finances, time, service, and anything else we can think of. He is worthy of our undivided attention. Let’s work on loving God with all that we have.

- Ministering to Young People. Notice in vss. 6-9 that parents and adults are to help young people apply God’s commands to their hearts. As they go along their daily activities, they are to be reminded of God and His will.

First, the children’s church and youth church of the Bible is called the “family.” The church cannot be a substitute family for young people. We are at our best when we supplement the family.

Second, there are many children who don’t have a Christian family to help them understand and live by God’s will. Especially in these cases, we need to do the best that we can to plant and water seeds in their minds. But we also need to work on equipping and encouraging their parents and caregivers to do their God given jobs - raise their children in the Lord.

Third, we need to find innovative ways to keep God’s will on the minds of His people (i.e., His young and old people). Let’s work on helping our young people understand and live by God’s will for their lives.

Read Mark 12:28-34

II. Love in the New Testament. Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. Jesus teaches that loving God with all that one has is the greatest. Loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the second greatest commandment.

The Sunday School material ends talking about how the one who asked the question is not far from the kingdom of God and no one else asking any questions.

Applications -

- The foundation. Notice in vss. 29-31 the reinforcement of God’s commands to love God and others. First, just as there is consistency in the Bible, there should be consistency in the church. We should not all be saying different things.

Second, every believer should be focused on living lives that demonstrate love of God and others, as we love ourselves.

Third, we should make sure that we love ourselves. The evidence of self love is not just what we say but what we do. Being poor stewards of our health, wealth, mental well-being, and relationships are not the behaviors for self love.

Let’s work on living by God’s will, which places foundational emphasis on loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

- “Not far” from the kingdom. Notice in vs. 34 that Jesus talks about the man not being far from the kingdom. We may reason that being “not far” is better than being far from the kingdom. However, if we are not in the kingdom then we are still too far.

More simply, as it relates to salvation, we are either saved or not. “Almost saved” is not saved. As it relates to discipleship - living by the King’s commands or kingdom living - we must work on learning and obeying God’s will for every area of our lives. Let’s work on being all of what God wants us to be.

- God’s timing. Notice in vs. 34 of our Sunday School material that the season of attacking questions came to an end. In like manner, God knows how much we can bear. And God has a way of bringing bad seasons to a close at the right time. Let’s work on trusting God’s timing to work things out for the good of His people.

Conclusion: Let’s work on focusing all that we have on loving God and others, as we love ourselves. God has much for those who obey His will.

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