“Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
If no commandment is greater than these, no environment needs them more than our homes. When God first commanded the children of Israel to love him with all their heart, soul, and might, he directly attached his expectations to everyday life at home.
“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut 6:6-9)
By God’s design, home is “where the children are led to know Christ in his beauty who loves them so.” Home, as God envisioned, is “where the altar fires burn and glow” (B. B. McKinney). Home may be “where the heart is,” but nothing matters more in Christian homes than the heart of God.
Which leads us to the second command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If those words apply anywhere, they apply at home. Home should be where we learn the importance of being “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil 2:2). Home should be where we learn the discipline of doing “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit.” If we are determined to “count others more significant” than ourselves, we must model that humility first at home (Phil 2:3).
Likewise, home is where our children and grandchildren must be taught to look “not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). If they do not learn those God-breathed principles at home—from our words and our actions—where will they learn them?
The “great commandments” apply to every aspect of daily life. The challenge begins at home. If I am not deliberately dedicating myself to these commandments, the Lord is not building my house and my self-centered efforts will ultimately prove to have been empty (Psa 127:1).
For discussion: How would you summarize these two great commandments in your own words? Why is it important to God that we love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Why does it matter whether I love my neighbor as myself? Why does this challenge begin at home? Are we showing love for each other the way we should? What are some everyday ways we can improve in the ways we show love for each other?