The Most Popular Commandment

Commandments. They are a big part of Scripture. A big part of how we are to follow God. Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commandments.

We all know about the Top Ten. These are the OG commandments. They are designed to lead us to the life that is set apart. A life that pleases God.

But we didn’t keep them. Especially when you see how Jesus explains them in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Which reminds us that they have a bigger purpose as well — to point us to our need for a Savior. One who would pay the penalty for our commandment-breaking, but also One who could keep them all perfectly and give us his obedience.

We are also probably familiar with the Greatest Commandment. The commandments just began with the Top Ten. God continued on from there and gave His people all kinds of commandments designed for our good and His glory among all the nations.

The Pharisees came along and added even more. The whole thing began to get out of control. So when Jesus showed up and started teaching with authority, people wanted to know what was most important. What is the greatest commandment, they asked.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

None of these commandments are the most popular commandment. The most popular commandment is not one of the Top Ten. It isn’t the commandment to make disciples, give to needy, or to not boil a baby goat in its mother’s milk. (yep, that’s really in there)

The most popular commandment – meaning the commandment most often given in the Bible is this — don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

God knew we would struggle with fear. He knew we would battle against the fear of angels, spiders, enemies, heights, public speaking, dying, and the dark.

What fear is trying to rule your life right now? Fear of the virus? Fear of the election results? Fear of conflict? Fear of another person? Fear Of Missing Out?

God says don’t be afraid. Don’t let fear control you. Don’t let fear keep you from doing what is best, what is right, what is necessary, what is essential, and what is commanded.

I know. Easier said than done, right? Fear is a real problem, and it doesn’t let go of us easily. So, how do we really embrace the most popular commandment? Let me offer you two thoughts.

First, we need to remember that God is with us. In one of the most famous passages related to all this, God challenges Joshua to not be afraid. He commands him to be strong and courageous. And he does so b/c He will be with Joshua. Everywhere and every time.

God always goes with us. He doesn’t call us to follow and obey on our own. He will be with you. Always. Even to the end of the age.

Second, we need to remember that God is for us. The gospel makes that ultra clear. If God was willing to give us His only Son to die on a cross in our place…then we know He is truly for us. Forever.

In Romans 8, Paul asks the question, “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”

The answer is no one. Not successfully. Anything that happens to us is in His control. In fact, He promises to work all things for good in the end. We have nothing to fear.

We truly can be controlled by faith instead of fear.

Sign up for that mission trip. Start that conversation with a lost friend. Invite someone to church. Tell someone you are sorry. Confess that sin. Ask someone for help. Sign up to serve. Engage your church. Send that text. Make that phone call. Love your enemies.

God is with us and God is for us. Don’t be afraid.

Preach this truth to yourself today. And every day. And then follow Jesus. Without fear.

Lance Shumake