28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?” 29 “This is the most important,” Jesus answered: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” 32 Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. 33 And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
I know The Wizard of Oz is an iconic landmark of American cinema, but I didn’t like it all that much. It’s contribution to cinema, music and American culture is undeniable; however, it’s just not one of my favorites. I do remember the ol’ Scarecrow. The one thing he wanted more than anything was a brain.
A movie I did like was Driving Miss Daisy, and in one scene the elderly Daisy was pitching a fit and refusing all help because she was no longer allowed to drive. In a huff she cancelled her all-important hair appointment and slammed the phone down, telling them she’d just fix her own hair from now on. Her maid, wise and experienced over years with Miss Daisy, muttered to her under her breath, “Sometimes I think you ain’t got the sense God gave a lemon.”
Well, in the case of the Scarecrow it turned out he did have the brain he was looking for after all, and Miss Daisy got some sense and allowed people to help her, even making friendships along the way. And guess what? We all have brains too! Let’s use them.
In our Scripture today we see Jesus doing something very interesting. He distills the whole of Scripture into two little verses. Jesus was facing the taunts and traps of the political and religious leaders of His day when our verses appear. A scribe, overhearing Jesus’ wise responses to the questions He was asked, then asked Him what the greatest commandment was. Jesus responded with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”
When we love God with our hearts, we are thankful to Him. When we love with our souls, we praise and celebrate Him. When we love with our strength, we serve Him. But when we love Him with our minds, well, how do we do that?
Donald S. Whitney points out a few things about Learning in his book Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life. He states, “Unless we love God with a growing mind, we will be like Christian versions of the Samaritans to whom Jesus said, ’You Samaritans worship what you do not know’” (John 4:22).
It may be possible to love, even give ourselves in service, to a God we know little about. But if we love Him, we will love Him by learning His Word and His will for our lives as followers of Christ, and we will search out His ways that are not our ways. Whitney also says, “We will not become more like Christ if we don’t know more of what Christ is like.”
Learning is more of a discipline. It requires our time, thought, contemplation and energy. It’s not hard to talk about the Scriptures with our believing friends and ministers. It’s not hard to devote some time to Scripture study. What can be hard is the transformation that comes from Learning. The wisdom of God is unique in that God comes with it, and what God’s light touches and illuminates is always affected for His purposes.
If you really love the Lord, devote yourself to Learning on any level, because if you devote yourself to Learning about God, that knowledge will shape you, change you, make you sick of sin and lethargy, and will plant your feet firmly on the Rock. It will impact how you understand and relate to the Only Wise God who loves you, and to Jesus Christ who died for you that you might live in Him.
- Try it! Pick up a good commentary (the Discipleship team at Brentwood will be happy to help!) that you are comfortable with, read a passage of Scripture, and then read what the commentary says about that passage. What did you learn?
- Read Scripture for depth and not so much for breadth. Having read the Bible all the way through is good, but it’s much better if we can have an understanding of it too!
- Find a friend, mentor or minister you can talk with about what you are learning. Spend time learning about Scripture with a friend. It’s always more fun to learn along with someone else!