“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).
God’s deepest desire is not that we would help the poor. God’s deepest desire is that we would love the poor; for if we love them, we will surely help them.
Above all else, Jesus loved people. He didn’t see them merely as targets for his preaching and healing. Everything he did flowed out of his incredible love. It is important to see that the Great Commission calls for much more than a mechanical repetition of the doctrines of salvation. It starts with loving people; then it blossoms into caring about every dimension of people’s lives: caring, sharing, helping, healing, giving, comforting—telling people of God’s good news after showing people God’s great love.
When John the Baptist sent his disciples from prison to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:3–5).
While Jesus loved all people, he had a particular concern for the poor, the sick, the weak, the persecuted, and the downtrodden—“the least of these”—and he demonstrated it through his actions. Yes, the good news was proclaimed, but Jesus always cared about the whole person and demonstrated to them both his love and his compassion:
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35–36).
Jesus loved them. And he told us to do the same: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
When you think about your week, how would it look different if you chose all of your activities based on the two greatest commandments?
Jesus, thank you for demonstrating such great love through your compassion, your actions, your words, and your sacrifice. Please help me to love unconditionally the people you bring into my life.