Did the Beatles have it right? You would think so from what Jesus said when he was asked what the greatest commandment was.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22: 37-40 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul put it this way.
For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13: 9 NKJV)
Love God. Love people. That’s what it’s all about. If that’s the case, why bother with the rest of the Bible?
The problem is, everyone has their own idea of what “love” is. A mother may sincerely believe it is the loving thing to do to give her baby a bottle at bedtime, but this may be doing permanent damage to the child’s teeth and gums. (See Baby Bottle Decay.)
On the other hand, a truly loving act may not seem loving at all to a child. Imagine a toddler who needs surgery to save his life. He doesn’t understand why mommy and daddy would allow him to go through such pain.
God’s love is so much an integral part of his nature that the scriptures tell us “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) His loving actions are based upon his infinite knowledge and wisdom. He knows how we are made and what will harm us. The commands he has put into the Bible are not there because he wants us to be miserable, but because he cares about us.
When you look at some of the things God has commanded people to do in the Bible, you may wonder just how loving he really is, just as that toddler hurting from surgery wonders if his mommy and daddy really love him. But we can be sure that he has a loving reason behind everything he has done, and everything he allows.
The whole point of the Bible is God giving us direction because he loves us and wants what is best for us. And he wants us to have that same kind of love for others. When Joshua took over the leadership of the nation of Israel upon Moses’ death, only the first five books of the Old Testament had been written. These contain wisdom and laws that were needed for that people at that time. God tells Joshua
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)
Joshua was to read and meditate on the Law all the time. Why? So he would be miserable? No, so he would be successful.
That’s what biblical living is all about. It is meditating on the scriptures so we can see how to love God and others. The result will be our success – becoming everything God meant for us to be.