And You Shall Love
V’ahavta (ואהבת) — And you shall love.
It may not sound like much, but Yeshua and some of his contemporaries took great meaning from this phrase. We find it in Deut. 6:5
“and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”
and the same in Lev. 19:34
“the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”
This is where the saying of Yeshua in Mark 12 derives when he was asked,
“‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’’ And the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.’” Mar. 12:28–32
Through a simple phrase, Yeshua derives the unity of God, (in that Yahweh, the God of Israel, Yeshua’s Father, is one), that loving Him is the greatest command and that loving the stranger as one’s own brethren (yourself) is the second.
Yeshua further defined elsewhere exactly who their neighbor was; everyone, including those they despised the most, the lowlife, scum, inbred, not-in-God’s-image Samaritans (Luke 10).
Far too often we place our theological agendas and vendettas over the simple words of loving God and others, given by Moses and re-established by the greater than Moses (Deut. 18; Acts 3; 7:37, 52). This includes those toward whom we may not feel much love. But is this not what Yeshua also taught,
“if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matt. 5:46–47.
I can find no reason under heaven given why we should treat anyone (our worst enemies, and those with whom we may completely disagree) with anything less than the same charitable attitude plainly and perfectly exhibited by our Lord Messiah. Humanity tends to forget that God does not despise the same people we often do.
Feeling compassion for those who despise us is not natural, but embracing that which is not our nature is to welcome something much greater than ourselves and participate in a work that only God can do.
When it comes right down to it, I would much rather be despised among my peers for the truth, than to be loved for a lie.
“On these two commandments [and you shall love] depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 22:40