Thursdays at Volmoed – The Greatest Commandment – Sermon by Mpumelelo Khambule, P/OHC

Scripture Readings

In this morning’s Gospel we see JESUS answering one of the Pharisees who is a lawyer, in the question he asked—Which is the Greatest Commandment in the Law. JESUS quoted the commandment that is the basis of our faith from the book of Deuteronomy 6:5. The commandment to love GOD with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, which is accompanied by the second one which says to Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

In my short sermon this morning, I would like us to look at how GOD is loved through these Three Part of Man that JESUS listed and how the neighbor is loved as we love ourselves. This Commandment is often confusing in the GOD’s Church because of the hardness of our flesh, we end up saying words like these: “Surely GOD did not want us in his Heaven when he commanded us to love our neighbors as neighbors are such a nuisance sometimes”

Perhaps, the most important thing is to find out from the Holy Scriptures—what it is to love GOD or to love JESUS Who is the image of invisible GOD, The Firstborn of all creatures. When we read the Gospel according to John 14:15 we hear JESUS saying: “If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments.” Then He continued in verse 21 in the same chapter saying: “he who has My Commandments, and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” This is not the first time we have heard those words coming from JESUS, but we have heard similar ones from GOD Himself when we read the book of Exodus 20:6 where He says: “…I show mercy to thousands who love Me, and keep My commandments.” And the HOLY SPIRIT who is still speaking today in GOD’s Church has explained through His Apostle John—what it is to love GOD when we read the book of 1 John 5:3 where he says: “Loving GOD is to keep His Commandments, and His Commandments are not difficult.”

Oh yes, That is True! His Commandments are not difficult at all if we are truly born of GOD through faith in JESUS because everything born of GOD has conquered the world! There is nothing now that can stop us from keeping our GOD’s Commandments because we have conquered the World by being born again! Yes, His Commandments are not difficult at all if we are truly filled with the Power of the HOLY SPIRIT the LORD, the Giver of life, Who proceeds from the FATHER and the SON JESUS, Who with the FATHER and the SON is adored and glorified! Because it is that SPIRIT that leads a person to all the Will of GOD. So now we know and it has become clear to us what it is to love GOD. LOVING GOD IS TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.

Now let’s go back to these Three Parts of Man we are advised to love our GOD with—(Which is) to love GOD with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. Now the question is: How do we love GOD with all our heart? There are many answers that may come up for this question, but from my experience in reading the Holy Scriptures, to love GOD with all your heart it means that in all things that are worshiped in this world, let your heart stand only in GOD, the Only One Who made heaven and earth.

Be sure that there are no other things that your heart can believe in, and put its trust in. Instead, let your heart be perfect and remain completely loyal to GOD. Fight, not to let evil thoughts rule your heart because we have heard from JESUS when we read the Gospel according to Mark 7:20-23 when He says: “Everything that comes from within a person comes from the heart and defiles a person, because within the heart of human come evil intentions: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” In other words, the source in the heart that produces all these things that defile a person must be closed. How can that source be closed? It can be closed if each person allows GOD to always write His Precepts in his/her heart daily so that the love of loving GOD with all your heart will always grow within you.

O Yes! The human heart is a good tablet where GOD writes His Commandments so that a person can be careful to walk as the Precepts of GOD are written in his/her heart, that you not only hear His Word with your ears but don’t keep it to practice. If his Commandments are thus written in your heart and you are diligent to walk in His Will, that makes you not only love or honor GOD with the lips of your mouth but your hearts is far from Him like the nation of Israel that JESUS talks about in the Gospel according to Mark 7:6 when He says to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me!” To honor GOD with only your lips but not with your heart, that is hypocrisy, also to love GOD only with your lips but not with your whole heart is hypocrisy. Therefore my brothers and sisters, We must always try by all means to love GOD with all our hearts!

One may also ask: What is it to love GOD with all your soul and mind? It is to love GOD with all our being. In order to come to love GOD with all our being, we need to respond to the request of the HOLY SPIRIT through the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans 12:1-2 when He says: I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of GOD, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to GOD, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of GOD —what is good and acceptable and perfect. Presenting our bodies or ourselves to GOD is our spiritual worship! How do we present our bodies to GOD? We present our bodies to GOD by devoting ourselves to diligently reading the Holy Scriptures daily that His Holy Words may be filled within us, so that we can walk according to His Will, not our Will because loving Him is to keep His Commandments. To keep his commandments is to do His will!

HOLY SPIRIT continues and says: We must not be conformed to this world, which means we must not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but we must let GOD transform us into a new person by changing the way we think in our minds. Why is it so important to GOD that we should not copy the behavior of this world or not to imitate this World? It is because the one who imitates the world is a person who loves the world, and for the one who loves the world, the love of GOD does not dwell in him. We get that when we read John’s first letter 2:15-17 where he says: Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the FATHER is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the FATHER but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the Will of GOD live forever. In that way, we must be careful not to imitate the world in order to keep GOD’s love in us. If we are no longer imitating this world, we must devote ourselves to reading the Holy Scriptures so that we can meditate on His commandments which are His Holy Word day and night.

Because all who meditate on the Law of GOD day and night are blessed as it is written in Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

Separating ourselves from the ways of sinners and delight in the Law of GOD, meditating in His Law day and night can change our way of thinking in our minds and can makes us not allow any evil thoughts to rule our mind, can makes us to be completely loyal to GOD in our minds, that is to Love GOD with our mind.

What am trying to say with this? Am I trying to bring you back to the Law? Never, ever! But it is written that the just requirements of the Law must be fulfilled in those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the SPIRIT! Romans 8:3-4 For GOD has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to
the flesh but according to the Spirit.

If the first and greatest commandment has found its place in us completely according to the Holy Scriptures, then it will be very easy for us to do the second commandment, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. There are many things I could quote from the Bible that guides us on how to love our neighbors, but time will not allow me. Rather, I would like us to look at four things that Love does not want us to do from the first our reading Leviticus.

In Leviticus verse 15 GOD says: You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor.

In other words Love does not discriminate against anyone, but it loves all people equally. The poor and the rich, the white and the black, of your tribe and not of your tribe but loves all people just as GOD loved all people through His Son JESUS CHRIST our Precious LORD. But if we love a person, we must not like the evil things he does, but we must hate the evil and stick to the good things he does. As it is written in in Romans 12:9 : ” Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good”. In verse 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

In other words, Love does not allow you to slander your neighbor, destroy his/her name, damage his/her reputation in order to achieve what you want. No! Love does not seek its own, rather it always strives to seek the good of the neighbor ( 1 Cor 13:5)

In verse 17 You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.

In other words, love does not hate a neighbor because he has done something wrong. Yes! It is true that Love does not rejoice in injustice, it rejoices in the truth, that is written, but that does not give you the right to hate your neighbor because of his wrongdoing, instead you must rebuke him with Love for what he did wrong. Would you be happy if GOD hates you and wants nothing to do with you because you have sinned? Never, you will not appreciate that but you will yearn for forgiveness from GOD, and in the abundance of his mercy He will forgive you in that way we must do to our neighbors as GOD does to us with love.

In last verse 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

In other words, love does not hold grudges because a grudge person, who does not forgive, it is easy for him to return evil for evil to his neighbor. It is written in the Word of GOD that vengeance belongs to GOD. We are not allowed to retaliate according to the Word of GOD, we must not be guilty of anyone except for loving each other says the Holy Scriptures!

My beloved people of Volmoed and our guests Let’s always strive to maintain the bond of unity with love as GOD’s family because love is eternal and it will never fade as it is written in the book of First Corinthians 13:8&13 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is Love.

As I sit down, Community of Volmoed, your love is very amazing, this place is warm because of your love that is felt by everyone who steps in these premises, so let’s continue like that until our Lord JESUS CHRIST returns in Glory. Amen.

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