FIRST MY GOD, NEXT MY NEIGHBOUR.
“And the second is like this, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Mark xii.31.
I will only love my neighbour as I ought, if I love the Lord my God first and supremely.
For then the neighbour-love will have its fitting place. It will not usurp the throne, it will not occupy the chief room in my heart. Through it and beyond it I shall climb to the affection which is more august and divine. Ardent though it may be, full and faithful, it will still yield to my love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. The union of friend with friend, of husband with wife, of mother and child, is sweet beyond all telling; yet it should be to me but the earthly copy of the things in the heavenlies.
And then the neighbour-love will be impelled by the best motives. It will not content itself with seeking the worldly prosperity and comfort of those who are so dear to me. It will covet for them nobler treasures than these. It will pray and toil and live to bring them into vital and blessed union with our God and His Christ. Nothing short of this divine coronation will satisfy it.
And then the neighbour-love will last through eternal years. When the heavenly Master is first in my friend’s affection and in my own, we are heirs together of the grace of unending and undecaying life. And, by and by, “we shall meet as heretofore, some summer morning”—meet never to separate again. Hands that clasp here round the Cross of Jesus will clasp yonder before His Throne. Voices that praise Him in the outer court will magnify Him better within the veil.
They are wise indeed who do not forget the first commandment in the second.
Dr. Alexander Smellie.