The Great Commandment

Urhobo Historical Society

The Great  Commandment

By O. E. Aighalu
President,  God’s Kingdom Society

Being the Address by the President of God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), Brother O. E. Aighalua, during the Freedom Day – Christ’s Birth Anniversary – Celebration in October 2001.

Fellow Celebrants,

Glory, honour and praises be to Jehovah the Almighty God, through His beloved Son Jesus Christ our Redeemer forever, Amen.

The Holy Bible, the Book of Books, enjoins us to give thanks to God always for His goodness.   We thank Him for preserving us from the Freedom Day of last year to that of this year. -1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 92:1. 

Within the circle of God’s Kingdom Society, Freedom Day, is the day set aside for the remembrance of the birth into this sin-ridden world of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and the world’s greatest Advocate of Freedom who was born in the month of October about 2000 years ago.  His birth marked a decisive turning point for good in the history of mankind.  It is because of the importance of Christ’s birth that the world reckons a new era from the year he was born. Thus, whether people believe in Jesus Christ or not, they still acknowledge his greatness in their day to day lives. We Christians have even greater reasons to honour the birth of our Saviour as it ushered in peace and salvation to mankind. – Luke 2: 14; Luke 4:16-21.

It has pleased God that the Freedom Day address for this year should be on the subject: “THE GREAT COMMANDMENT.”  This is drawn from the question asked Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry by a Pharisee. He asked: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Though the Pharisee wanted to test the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the answer the Lord gave was convincing and irrefutable to wit: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:34-40. See also Mark 12: 28-34.

The Love of God

The answer Jesus Christ gave the Pharisees, which was drawn from the statement of the prophet Moses under inspiration of God in Deuteronomy 6:4,5 and Leviticus 19:18, is in two parts: To love God with all our hearts, soul and mind and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Convinced, of what Christ had told him the man identified in St. Mark’s account as a scribe (one learned in the law) replied; ” … Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:32, 33) The answer of Jesus Christ shows that the duty and obligation is laid upon true Christians to have and to serve but one God. To love God with all our hearts, soul and mind means to give ourselves wholly or completely to His service; to always strive to fulfill all righteousness; to put our confidence and trust solely in God, to be willing to deny ourselves or give up what we hold dear in order to do the will of God.

Men have every reason to love their Creator. Indeed, every reasonable creature should, on realizing the abundance of Jehovah’s goodness, willingly chose to serve Him.  (Psalm 107:15; 103: 1-5; Psalm 139: 14-18; etc) It should be noted that God who created man has the power to compel all to worship him.  But he chose to make man a free moral agent, giving man the knowledge to choose which way he should go by way of worship. (Romans 6:16; Deuteronomy 30:15) In spite of man’s disobedience, God Almighty in exercise of his love for man,  sent Jesus Christ to redeem man from sin and death.  (Romans 5: 6-8) In the words of St. Paul the coming of Jesus Christ is evidence of the ”kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man” – Titus 3: 4.

But due to the influence of Satan the devil many people are either not serving God at all or indulge in mixed worship contrary to the will of God.  (Isaiah 1:1-4; Amos 8:14; etc.)  True worshippers of God Almighty maintain their love for their Creator no matter the temptations to the contrary. This includes resisting the tricks of Satan’s agents who with signs and wonders seek to induce the people of God to take a compromising course that would dilute their love for God. God used Moses to warn the children of Israel not to listen to any so-called prophet whose doctrine tended to turn the people away rom God saying the Lord allowed it to prove them: “to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13: 1-4; See also Galatians 1:8-9)  And Jesus Christ declared: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37.

To love God means to “walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments…” (Deuteronomy 30:16). And in Deuteronomy  11:1 God commanded: “Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep His charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, always.”  It is crystal clear that the person who loves the Lord with all his heart is the one who gets the knowledge of God and practices what he had learnt.  Such a person is deemed wise within the context of the Scriptures.  – Matthew 7: 24-27.

The heart is the seat of affection and motive.  (Matthew 15: 17-20) When the law of God resides in one’s heart, his course of action will be right.  (Hebrews 8:10) The Bible says: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life…” (Proverbs 6:23) And Christ asserted: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”- John 14:15,21,23.

Moreover, the one who loves God will hate the things God hates – “a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) The prophet David declared: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Psalm 139:21,22) And the prophet David exhorted in Psalm 97:10: “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil…”      

It is needful at this point to recall the instance of King Jehoshaphat, a godly man, whom the Bible says prepared his “heart to seek God.”  At a certain time,  King Ahab of Israel requested Jehoshaphat to join him in a war against the Syrians. Now Ahab under the influence of his wife Jezebel had deviated from the worship of God.  Instead of distancing himself from the godlessness of King Ahab, Jehoshaphat agreed to join him.  For this God sent His servant Jehu to correct Jehoshaphat in these words: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 19:2) We should learn from this and not be “unequally yoked” with the wicked. –2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

The Love of One’s Neighbour

The second part of Christ’s answer in regard to the “Great Commandment” is that we should love our neighbour as ourselves.  As Jesus Christ explained in the parable of the Samaritan, our neighbour is not necessarily one who lives next door to us but one who for God’s sake loves, cares and does good to his fellowman, whether he knows him or not. (Luke 10:25-37)  Loving our fellows as ourselves implies realizing that all of us are creations of God, endowed with wisdom, power, justice and love, with which to glorify our Creator; that we are not sufficient of ourselves but our joy and peace lie in devotion to God, the Preserver of us all, and who will use us to help one another.

It is a well-established fact that Christians are set apart from others by their practice of love.  Indeed, he who professes Christianity but does not love another is not yet a Christian.  While on earth, Jesus Christ gave this commandment to his disciples whom we are by God’s grace: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:34,35.

Love is the perfect expression of unselfishness. Where there is no love, the creature becomes malicious,  extremely selfish, having no regard for duty or obligation to others and fatally bent on accomplishing his purposes regardless of great wrongs that may result to others. On the contrary, the person who loves his neighbour as himself will not do anything to hurt him but will always seek his good or happiness.  Scripture says: “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” – Romans 13: 8-10.

These ills mentioned above are rampant in the world today at the instance of Satan the Devil.  That is why there is so much unhappiness and peril among men.  Instead of practicing the Great Commandment, people hate their fellow men, a phenomenon which manifests in racism, ethnic prejudice, casteism,  (discrimination on the grounds of social caste or class), xenophobia, (intense dislike or fear of foreigners or strangers), slavery, child and women trafficking, ritual murders, armed robbery and so on.  Recently, over 14,000 delegates across the world including United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, 35 heads of state, 160 foreign ministers attended “The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” held in Durban South Africa from August 31 – September 7, 2001.  The Conference brought into sharp relief man’s inhumanity to man.   In spite of the abolition of slave trade under which an estimated 12 million Africans were herded out of Africa under savage conditions to slave markets in America and Europe between the 15th and 19th centuries, the heinous practice is still going on in various degrees in Nigeria and various parts of the world.  Particularly hit today are women and children. This is a violation of the Great Commandment.  God created all men free, why should men seek to put their fellow men in bondage? No Christian will subject his fellow human being to the torture and indignity of slavery.    It is a sin for any man to maltreat or despise his neighbour because all men are created and sustained by God and no man can create another. (Job 1:21; Matthew 5:36; Isaiah 40: 26) The Prophet Solomon declared: “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth…” (Proverbs 14:21) Both those regarded as  “indigenes” and those seen as  “strangers” are enjoined by God to love each other and to submit themselves to the laws of God, the Owner of all lands and before Whom all inhabitants of the earth are “strangers and sojourners” – Numbers 9:14; Deuteronomy 10:19; Leviticus 25:23.

The apostle John stated: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” – 1 John 4:20,21.

It should be pointed out that it is the understanding and application of the Great Commandment that will enable men to tackle the problems of racism, slavery and hatred of foreigners, not ineffectual or empty resolutions and declarations by politicians and diplomats. Evidently if men had been mindful of the injunction to love their neighbour as they love themselves, they would not indulge so wantonly in wars and conflicts sending so many people to their untimely deaths.  In Africa alone there are 17 on-going wars, with millions starving and dying as refugees. Those who do not have any regard for human life and who therefore torture and oppress and bring distress to their fellow human beings are like Cain, showing themselves to be the instruments of the devil who is “a murderer from the beginning” and they will suffer the adverse judgment of God for their actions unless they repent. (John 8:44; 1 John 3:12)  Apostle John again stated: “ In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” – 1 John 3:10.

Here in Nigeria the sins of armed robbery, rape, assassination, cheating, covetousness, etc are rife.  In February this year, many Nigerians were shocked and outraged by the news that three mobile policemen in Kogi State, while on an illegal checkpoint duty, viciously sent five traders to untimely death by setting fire to the bus they were traveling in, having found that the traders had about N1.4 million on them. (Nigerian Tribune, Saturday, February 17, 2001, page 1) One of the traders escaped to report the matter as a result of which the policemen were arrested, dismissed, charged to court and subsequently sentenced to death. If the policemen had the fear of God and love of their fellow man at heart, they would not place greater value on money than on human life to the extent of committing murder. We must point out that no matter what punishment any evil doer may receive here on earth, he would still face the judgment of God except he repents thoroughly. –Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Ezekiel 18:21,22.


Down the ages, some rulers of the world have like Jeroboam, ruled the people with whips and scorpions (1 Kings 12:11).  They have oppressed and bruised the people, such that the history of the nations is written in human blood. Today millions are starving for bread, the poor wait for handouts and live hand-to-mouth, while the few rich ones live wantonly and in luxury.  Those who are put in office to improve the lives of the people are busy (allegedly) enriching themselves and indulging in senseless ego trips.  They constantly make oral declarations of piety which are meaningless if not backed by practical demonstration of love for humanity as evidence of their love for God. Any one who misuses any opportunity for service to God and man is doing himself grievous harm.  The Prophet Solomon advised: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  Say not unto thy neighbour Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” (Proverbs 3:27,28)  Moreover, John the apostle declared: “But whoso had this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1John 3: 17,18; 1 Timothy 6: 17-19).

Also the giving of gifts or assistance should be done without hypocrisy and without vested interests, to get material rewards, praise of men and so on.  These days when some want to give, they give not to those who need it but to those who have more than enough while those who are really in need continue to cry for help to no avail. Such is not true show of love as it has strings attached.  St. Paul advised: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good”  He added: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” (Romans 12:9,10)  And what is more, Our Lord Jesus Christ advised:, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” – Luke 14:12-14; See also Proverbs 19:17.

There is no doubt that the world would have been a happier place if people had taken heed to the Great Commandment. On this auspicious occasion of the remembrance of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, let us resolve to put into practice the more the Great Commandment.  St Jude admonished “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” – Jude 21.

 To the only wise God, and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, whose birth we are remembering, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and evermore.  Amen. 


Salem City, Warri
October, 2001


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