…’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27—NIV)

A lawyer sought to put the Lord to the test by asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what his reading of the law taught him. In response the lawyer gave us the verse above. He summarized the essence of the Ten Commandments and all the expansive commandments which flow there from.. The first five commandments of the Decalogue speak of man’s responsibilities to God, the second five speak of man’s responsibilities to his neighbor. Upon the answer of the lawyer our Lord responded, "You have answered rightly, do this and you will live."

By his answer, the lawyer was putting two and two together. Deuteronomy  6:5 is the first piece of the puzzle and Leviticus 19:18 is the second piece. The accuracy of the answer is proven by the fact that the same words fell from the lips of our Savior upon other occasions, specifically in Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:29–30.

Of course the lawyer was not satisfied with the direction Jesus took and would not let the Lord conclude the interview with the challenge for him to do this and live. Apparently he wanted to justify himself and so asked the Lord just exactly who was his neighbor? The parable of the Good Samaritan follows, quickly followed by the thought provoking question put to the lawyer of what character in the story was the most neighborly. The lawyer was forced to admit that it was the least acceptable person to the lawyer, the outcast, downtrodden, half-breed Samaritan. Jesus skewers his hypocrisy and self-righteousness by reiterating his challenge, "Go and do likewise." Obeying the Law simply to obey it gets a person nowhere spiritually. Such obedience is at best half-hearted and at worst cold-hearted having never been quickened through the blood of Christ. God scrupulously weighs the vitality of the heart from which flows the outward behavior which men associate with goodness.

By way of illustrating the scrupulous nature of God’s review of hearts, what He values, and what the lawyer completely missed, remember the Samaritan woman’s conversation with Jesus on the topic of genuine salvation. He said to her, "The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23–24) Christ condemns ignorant worship. He is teaching the how (spirit) and the Who (truth) of worship. Hearty worship must be in His realm (Spirit) and must be unmixed with error (truth). He is searching for the spiritually quickened heart that is rehearsing and reflecting uncontrived testimony of sound doctrine and practical theology.

Evidences of love must always be in the love "language" of the one loved to be of any value. Similarly, we cannot communicate our love to God in any other way than what He desires from us. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (intention and will of the whole man), with all your soul (whole self, unity of the flesh and will), with all your strength (whole vitality and effort), and with all your mind (total, immersed commitment). Only when this "realm" of the spirit is in focus in your life can practical theology take effect, in the words of the lawyer, love "your neighbor as yourself."

What does God observe as He weighs your heart-love for Him? In order to assist you to answer this question substitute your name for the name of Israel as you read this next verse. "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 10:12)