What do I have to do to please God?

When the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadduccees to silence, they gathered themselves together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  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 22:34-40

The Pharisees and Saduccees were the elite religious and political leaders of the day in New Testament times.  The Sadducees were aristocrats, tending to be wealthy and holding powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest, and the majority of the 70 seats of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. They seemed to be more concerned with politics than religion. Because they were accommodating to Roman leaders and were the wealthy upper class, they did not relate well to the common man, and vice versa. The common man tended to prefer those who belonged to the party of the Pharisees who were mostly middle-class businessmen. This group believed that the written Word (Old Testament) was inspired by God, but they also gave equal authority to oral tradition which is forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:2). The Pharisees sought to not only strictly obey these traditions themselves but also to hold such obedience as the standard for righteousness for everyone. This was their ticket to acceptance by God.

The two groups were largely opposed to one another…except in their desire to discredit and eventually destroy Jesus.  Scripture shows us time and again how these people tried to trap Jesus by asking religious questions that would inflame Roman leaders or give them grounds to humiliate Him before the people.

The above passage is one of those attempts.

Instead of holding out one command or law as priority above all others, Jesus boils them all down to two principles.  He says that everything Scripture teaches us is based on the preeminence of these commands.  Therefore it will serve us well to see what He says…and to evaluate ourselves against His standard.  His standard is  LOVE… For today, ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light into your heart.  And to speak to us about LOVE.

How are we doing in the most important thing, the thing upon which all of Scripture rests?  Loving God and loving others.