In the book of Matthew, a lawyer asked Jesus the following question in an attempt to trip him up: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
T.D. Jakes takes it from here: (verbatim)
Jesus says, “These two are the greatest commandments.” They embody everything. … Jesus says these two commandments [encapsulate] all of the others. So if we get these two right, we get credit for the whole test.
Now, that’s a pretty good deal. Y’know, you’re getting ready for an end-of-the-year exam, and the teacher says, “I’ve got 175 questions, but if you get these two right, you get credit for the 175.” Is that a pretty good deal?
You’re backed up 12 payments on your house note, they’re getting ready to … take the house from you, but they say, “If you make two payments, you don’t have to make the other 10.” Is that a pretty good deal?
That’s what is being said here. If you get these two things right, everything else is pretty cool – not because I overlook the others, but these [encapsulate everything else].
So, what are they? We’ve gotta get these two right. Touch somebody and say, “We’ve gotta get these two right.”
He says, “Number one, that you love the lord thy god.”
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. You mean after all these ceremonial washings and cleansings (etc.), the first-most important thing to God is that you love him? … God says, “Above everything else, the most important thing to me is that you love the lord thy god with ALL thy heart,” not part of it, “with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy understanding.”
Ooh, that’s something. I did not know that love was that important, nor are we often taught that love can be legislated. God COMMANDS us to love you. He doesn’t beat around the bush. I wish I could do that. “I command you to love me.” Wouldn’t that be cool to look at somebody and say, “I command you to love me.”
God says, “I command you…” Wouldn’t that fix some marriages … wouldn’t that solve some problems in the house right now? Wouldn’t that change parents’ and children’s relationship(s) right now? Wouldn’t that fix you and your sister right now if you could just command –
Wouldn’t you go to work Monday morning and walk in the office and slam down your books and say, “I command you to love me”? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? That’s what God does. He commands us to love him, but he’s specific. He says, “With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your understanding, I want you to love me.”
He said that’s the most important thing.
I worked over, and [my shift] ran into the Sabbath. He said, “Love me. That’s the most important thing.”
“Lord, I haven’t always done right, I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve had some sin. I’ve had some weakness in my life.”
He said, “Look, don’t focus on what’s wrong with you.”
In a world full of thou shalt nots, the priority is on a thou shalt. … In a world full of thou shalt nots, the priority is on a thou shalt. Because God says, “If you get the shall right, I don’t have to worry about the shalt nots.” I’m slippin’ a Mickey in on you right there. I’m feeding you intravenously. You don’t even understand it, but it’s coming to you. God said, “If you’d stop approaching me as if I’m a police officer about to arrest you when you go over the speed limit, and we could move beyond the negativity to the positivity, if you get positive and get this right, you won’t break the law. Not because I’m going to arrest you but because you so love me.” He said, “I want you to stop focusing on what you got wrong and get lost in what you get right. I want you to love me with all your heart, with all your mind, all your soul.”
In other words, if God were a woman, he’d be saying to me, “I don’t want you to focus on cheating on me. I want you to focus on loving me. I want you to focus on loving me with all your heart, mind, and soul.” It sounds like she’s a really weak woman, but she’s a really smart woman because the woman knows that if you master loving me with all your heart, mind, and soul, I don’t have to tell you not to cheat because you’re going to get lost in [loving me].
So love … epitomizes what the commandments are lined out to talk about. He says, “I want the priority to be loving me – with everything.”
Ooh, I wish I had time to really work this.
Look at what a big command that is. Have you ever loved anything – anyone – including God with your all? ALL your heart, ALL your mind, ALL your soul, ALL your understanding? You know how you be loving people, but, “I love you, but…”? You know, “I love you to a point, but if you push me…” You know, you’ve got brakes. In the car, you’ve got brakes and then you’ve got emergency brakes. I fall in love, but I’ve got brakes, and then I’ve got the emergency brakes, where you really got crazy, and now I have to pull up. I’m the only one. Y’all pray for me. I’m the only one in the whole church who’s got an emergency brake.” It might take me all night to pull it up, but if you leave me alone in a room all by myself for 24 hours, by morning, I will pull the emergency brake. You will know it because you will smell burning rubber. That means you are taking me somewhere that I don’t want to go, and I’ve decided that the return is not as great as the investment. I’m out.” That’s me. Pray for me.
God says, “I challenge you to discover a hundred percent love. Before you die, to know what it is to give all of yourself.” That right there is a sermon.
Can you imagine what we might discover through all?
“I’d give up everything to follow you.”
“You wouldn’t give up a ham sandwich at 11 o’clock at night.”
But God says, “Love the lord thy God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul,” and then he says, “The second commandment is that you love your neighbor as yourself.” So, I don’t have to say, “Thou shalt not steal.” Because if you love me like you love you, you wouldn’t steal from me because you love me too much … Imagine how your personal relationships would change if you loved the people in your life like you love yourself. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you were as forgiving of them as you are of you?
Isn’t it funny how people who NEED forgiveness don’t give it?
Isn’t it funny how people can need you to understand their quirks, but they are unwilling to understand yours?
Isn’t it funny how people who want tolerance don’t tolerate you? If you’re going to ask me to tolerate you, then it’s demonstrated by tolerating me. I can accept you being different, but you can’t seem to –
The reality is, we always want to get more than we’re willing to give. So this second scripture obliterates selfishness. You can’t be selfish if you love your neighbor as [much as] you love yourself. You can’t do it …
You’re old enough now to find out that your parents aren’t stupid. That hits you in your 20s. For some people, it doesn’t hit until their 40s, but if you’re lucky, it’ll [set] in [at] about 20.
“Daddy didn’t go to work because he hated me, he was trying to pay the rent.”
“Mama wasn’t wrong about that boy. He is crazy.”
You start finding out that experience does give you some sense. It takes a while.
In your teen years, you’re almost supposed to be selfish because the teen is trying to separate from the womb of parenthood and find out who they are and in the process of identifying who they are and what they want to do, they inadvertently become selfish because they’re trying to find themselves. [fake blubbering] I’m so glad I’m done with that. Maturity is supposed to make you less selfish, but some people got stuck, and they never love anybody nowhere close like [they] love [themselves].
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again [because] it seems to have impact, it’s based on my perspectives in live: For 35 years of ministering and counseling people, I have never met a man who beat his wife and liked himself. Never – in 30-some years. The Bible says, “Love her as your own body,” but if you don’t love you, then it’s easier to beat her because you’re really angry and guilty about you. So, if you’re going to break through the bondage, you have to learn to love yourself because people who love themselves are much easier to love and easier to be around than people who don’t like themselves.
Oh, I don’t have time to get lost in that. That’s not my point.
You understand what I’m saying [though]? When you feel good about you –
[calls somebody up with him]
Now, whatever’s going on with me, whatever cologne I’ve got on, whether I’m sweaty, whatever is happening with me, when you came into my circle, you got drawn into it. If I’m swingin’ [takes a swing], you got drawn into a punch. If I’m loving, you got drawn into love. Whatever’s up with me, when you come into my circle, you become connected to it. So, if I was crazy before you walked up here – you understand what I’m saying?
Now, if I am a self-hater [with] insecurities, and you come up and get connected in that … the fight that I was having with me, I now get to have [with] you.
So, the healthiest people to love are people who love themselves.
So, the second commandment – Jesus says, “These are the two priorities: loving God and loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
What are your priorities?
What are the core values through which you let people in – or God in – or anybody in?
Is it if you make a certain amount of money?
If you’re a democrat?
If you’re a republican?
Who did you vote for?
What do you believe about [God]? How were you baptized?
Do you wear pants?
See, we can examine people to death.
What are your priorities?
God says that you love the lord thy God with all your heart and mind and that you love thy neighbor as you love yourself. I want to go deeper. He legislates love. He commands you to love. Oh, I could spend all day [on this]. If you command me to do something, that means I can do it. Because it wouldn’t be fair for you to command me to do something I can’t do.
“I command you to be a white man with blond hair and blue eyes.”
Come on, lord.
I can scrub and scrub and scrub … A little kid up in the hills of West Virginia saw me. He hadn’t seen nobody in my color in his life, and he looked at me and said, “Mister. Hey, mister.” I finally turned around, and he said, “Are you like that all over?”
I said everywhere I could see and everywhere I could get the mirror to point, it seems to be a 100 percent total job.
Okay, I’m back on track. …
If he commands me to do it, it must be within my power to accomplish it. Because it wouldn’t be just [fair] to command me to do something that I cannot do. So that means that love is controllable. …
What I love about God is God tells you how to love him. No guessing. Most people want you to guess how to love them. God comes right out, “Love me with everything. All your heart, all your mind, all your soul,” … he tells us straight up. And then he says, “I want you to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” …
The lawyer is looking for a loophole. And anytime you look for a loophole, it’s because you are guilty. … The lawyer says, “Who is my neighbor?” That’s the loophole. … Do I determine by who lives next door to me? Do I determine by my ethnicity? Do I determine by my politics? … Who is my neighbor?
If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand the story of the good Samaritan because the story of the good Samaritan is Jesus’ answer to the lawyer’s loophole. Jesus looks at him – [the lawyer] says, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus doesn’t even answer him. Jesus says, “A certain man –“ Jesus is so cool. Jesus says, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem” – the very fact he said he went down from Jerusalem says he’s a Jew – “to Jericho,” and he says, “he fell amongst thieves who stripped him and wounded him and left him half dead.” He says, “A Levite passed by, and saw him.” Levite – Levitical priesthood. Your pastors. Your religious orthodoxy. Those [who] epitomize the sacraments of your faith – the tenets. They passed by, looked at him, and turned and went away. … This guy, who the lawyer would perceive to be [his] neighbor, didn’t help him.
Let me break this down [to] where it becomes relevant to you:
Have you ever been shocked when you were in trouble at who didn’t help you? The person that you thought for sure that you knew would be your ride-or-die. Ride or die is an African-American colloquialism that means, like, total commitment. It just means to be totally committed. That’s enough about that.
So, you find out that when the heat is on, the brother who said he would always be there for you acts like he don’t even know you, looks at your predicament and crosses by on the other side [of the road].
Ain’t it funny how you can be bleeding to death and folks say, “If you need [anything]…” and then pass by on the other side?
I want you to understand what Jesus is saying, watch this: He says, “And then, the good Samaritan” — now, you have to understand, Jesus is settin’ the lawyer up. … In the lawyer’s mind, there is no such thing as a good Samaritan. The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. In fact, one time when they got ready to insult Jesus, they called him a Samaritan. When Jesus came down to the well to meet with the Samaritan woman, he said, “You know your people don’t talk to me.”
Isn’t it funny how you can limit love to likeness?
So Jesus says, “Who is the neighbor? Was it the priest? Was it the Levite or was it the good Samaritan?
So here are the takeaways: God is saying that if you are going to be like him, you have to love like him. You have to love people who don’t think like you, who don’t look like you, who don’t vote like you, who don’t dress like you, and you have to take down the tribunal whereby you try people before you love them and begin to understand that love has no loopholes. Don’t dress it up in political clothes, don’t dress it up in religious clothes, don’t dress it up in tribal clothes, don’t dress it up in [ethnic] clothes. Don’t dress it up in status. Love has no loopholes. Now, I’ll tell you how to begin to learn that is have some children. Because if you fool around and have some children, you will begin to understand that love has no loopholes. You will tell them, “If you do it again, I’m not gonna ever do such-and-such, I’m not gonna help you, don’t call me, I’m not gonna loan you no money — if you walk out that door and get into this, you are in it by yourself.” That’s what you said, but because you love them…
Touch somebody and say, “It’s about love, it’s about love, it’s about love.”
See, love will make you change your mind.
Love will make you go back on your word.
Love will make you go an extra mile.
Love will make you apologize even though you thought you were right.
Love will make you feed somebody who cussed you out.
Love will make you call somebody even though it makes you look like the weaker one.
Does anybody understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
Touch your neighbor and say, “Love don’t have no loopholes.” …
I don’t care what they did.
I don’t care who they did it with.
I don’t care how much you don’t agree with it.
If you really are a lover, love will find a way.
Ain’t no way out, ain’t no way out, ain’t no way out.
Touch three people and say, “No way out.”
No way out.
No way out.
Love has no loopholes. And I know I’m right about it because Jesus himself tried to find a loophole. The Bible said that he went in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he said, “Father, if it be thy will, pass this bitter cup from me. It costs too much to love these people. They’re all messed up and confused.” And he had to pray three times, trying to find a way out of the contract. Finally, he said, “Not my will but thine be done.” And they hung him high and they stretched him wide until the sun refused to shine, and the ground began to tremble, and he died. …
Touch three people and say, “He couldn’t get out of it, he couldn’t get out of it. He couldn’t get out of it. He couldn’t get out of it. He couldn’t get out of it.” …
For the love that was set before him, he died.
Shake your neighbor’s hand and say, “Neighbor, I can shake your hand, but you can’t shake your responsibility. You can’t shake your responsibility. You can’t shake what you’ve gotta do. Love has no loopholes. You’ve gotta love everybody with all your heart.”
What I’m trying to get you to see … what I’m trying to get you to do … what I’m trying to get you to understand, what I’m trying to get you to think: you’ve gotta be bigger than this. You can’t just love the folks in your zip code, the folks in your denomination, or the folks in your house. Love has no loopholes.
The person you touched may have been taught wrong, may have been taught to only love when the circumstances are right, when the conditions are right…
Working with people will demand that you broaden your ability to love even people — can I be honest? — people that you normally wouldn’t like. These are not the people you would invite over to eat hot dogs with. But for a paycheck, you learn how to … After a while, you do invite them over.
You cannot be a big person with a small heart. We can teach you all kinds of principles about being blessed and prosperous and overcoming and victory. Life can take you to the opiate of success. But if you end up behind a big desk in a corner office with a small mind and a small heart, you will lose everything you have because you cannot determine who is your neighbor. Now, the person you’re touching right now, they may not tell you, but every last one of us, our love is being tested in some area. A demand is being placed on your ability to love. Your ability to understand. Your ability to broaden your perspective beyond your comfort zone. …
I want you to pass the test. And the only way you aren’t going to pass it is if you continue to be a self-enthroned, egotistical maniac. What does that mean? Everything’s about you.
Years ago, I met a woman who’d written a book that stayed in my mind … It said the root of all sin is selfishness. And because I am a thinker, I couldn’t get away from the thought. Look at your sins. Are you selfish? … Are you loving like an adolescent in the middle of your life? Does everything always have to be about you? … If there’s any part of you that’s not so calloused that you can’t hear truth [and admit you’ve been selfish], I understand that because I’ve been selfish, too. The truth of the matter is, everybody in here at one time or another [has been selfish], but I’m telling you: there is no loophole. If you flunk the test, you’re gonna have to take it again. And take it again. And take it again. Until you pass the test of love. …
In somebody’s life, this cuts deep. It cuts down to the people you live with — your own children and how you interact with your own family and your own wife and your own husband. It cuts deep to how you feel about your mother, your stepmother, your mother’s new boyfriend — it cuts deep because it’s not what you expected, it’s not what you wanted, and it’s not about you.
It cuts deep to how you treat your sister and how you treat your brother…
But God would not be speaking it if you didn’t need to hear it. …
Love has no loopholes. There’s no way out.
You can listen to Bishop T.D. Jakes Monday through Friday at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m. EST on Radio 1000.