Blessed… At the End of the Day

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him.  “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:34-40, Common English Bible).

There is so much there. We haven’t finished Matthew’s Gospel yet, six more chapters to go. And there is so much we have talked about. Thus far our look at Matthew has come to 164 posts. We have talked about parables. We have talked about blessing and the beatitudes. We talked about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and his clearing the money-changers from the temple. We also have seen some pretty miraculous things like a little girl brought back from the dead, two Old Testament characters come back to life and have a conversation with Jesus, Jesus feeding more than 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus and one of his disciples walking on the water. Yeah, all those qualify as miracles.

All of that and so much more and yet we aren’t finished with Matthew’s Gospel. Then, there are 65 other books in the Bible. If you pick up your Bible and turn to the first page of Matthew, hold your finger there and then flip to the end of Matthew and pinch both places, it is really a pretty small number of pages in comparison to all the other pages of Scriptures.

In the Old Testament there are more than 600 commandments. There are more than 600 things that God said were really important. The Pharisees were self-appointed overseers of all things commandments. They were determined to keep Israel on the straight and narrow of the things God said were important.

When the Sadducees failed in their attempt to trap Jesus the Pharisees, more specifically, an expert in the law then took a shot. “Which is,” the legal expert asked Jesus, “the most important commandment?”

Jesus doesn’t even pause to think about it. You might think he had been studying for this oral exam (the Scripture does say that the legal expert was testing Jesus). He answers, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. “

I would think that the Pharisees would have no issue with the first half of Jesus’ answer. Loving God? Yeah, I would say that should be first. I would hope the Pharisees thought so too.

To me at least, it is the second part that is more surprising. And, considering the way the Pharisees treated Jesus and others, I can’t help but think this one was quite surprising. Think about Jesus’ words, “And the second is like it, you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” By their actions, we might be left to think the Pharisees didn’t love themselves too much because they certainly didn’t show much love by the way they treated the people around them.

At the end of the day it is all about love. You can just about trim the Bible down to these few verses. If the greatest commandment is to love, that is the bottom line for the way we live our lives. In the end, you’ve got to love.

How do you demonstrate your love for God and neighbor?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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