35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22: 35-39
I grew up playing team sports. As look back at a list of coaches, I think of the sacrifice Coach Heflen made for me, or the belief Coach Hudson had in me, or the confidence Coach Garner gave me, or the challenge Coach Holmes and Coach Moore laid out for me, and it inspired me as a young man to work harder and do better, not just for myself, but for the team.
As we approach Good Friday, where the Church celebrates Jesus’ sacrifice in grace and love for us on the cross, I’m inspired – that God would become one of us, and suffer like us, and that Jesus would give his all for us, reveals the depths of God’s love and reach for us, and that inspires me, to give my all, to do my best, to work harder to get better at life.
I realize my “all” could never repay what God has done for me, but I’m not trying to pay God back, I’m trying to pay it forward as a husband, dad, brother, friend, coach, and pastor. I think that’s part of what Jesus is getting at in these verses – he’s laying down an invitation and a challenge. God, who has given everything to us, wants us to give our all in return and to pay it forward to others, to our “neighbor”.
So, how is God challenging you today? Where can you do better, and what are you going to do about it? How can you pay it forward, for all the blessings, love, and grace God has given and continues to show you? This is your invitation and challenge for today.
Prayer: Lord, there’s no other way to say it, you’ve been good to me. May your love and grace and “all” that you’ve done for me and given me inspire me. Use me to be a blessing, to deliver that same love and grace to my neighbor. Show me again who is my neighbor in every situation. I accept your challenge and invitation this day. Lead me and guide me in carrying it out. Amen