Jesus points to the shema‘, the Hear, O Israel, as the greatest commandment, “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” All the rest of the Law and Prophets is an expansion on this theme.
This word, the whole word of God, James says, we should receive with meekness, and he pictures the word like a seed planted in the ground or implanted in the womb. He moves immediately to, “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” and then goes on to say that Abraham was justified by works in that his “faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” The implanted word necessarily bears fruit in the works we do. The word of God, as Isaiah says, will not return empty or fruitless, but multiplied, accomplishing it’s purpose.
The immediate application given with the shema’ is that of teaching our children. Deuteronomy says that this word is to be taught in our sitting, in our walking, our lying down and our rising. It is in the work of our hands and written on our foreheads; it is on our doors, and on our gates. This is the implanted word. It is to be all around us, over us, and through us. Paul sums this up with, “Fathers, bring your children up in the paideia and instruction of the Lord.” This is the full inculturation of our children, training them to love and obey God in all they do, and giving them a thoroughly biblical understanding of the world as God has made it. This word grows in us to bear fruit in which is its seed and that grows up in our children to bear fruit and more seeds to be planted and grown.
Likewise, Jesus gives practical application for “love your neighbor” in his parable about the Samaritan. This neighbor isn’t neighbor in the abstract or mankind in general. It is the person you happen to meet as you go on your way. This love is only manifest in the doing, in helping the person that is before us. John folds this back over and says that the fruit of loving God, the evidence that we have the word planted in us is our work and our love for one another. “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother… If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”