Answer: The tripod — a three legged stand. Even our first president, George Washington, used one in his early career as a land surveyor.
Like a three legged-stool, tripods combine stability with agility. Four legged tables and chairs work fine when we have a flat stable floor. Three-legs are better for stability when things are uneven.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus gave us his “Tripod of Love.” Some call it the Great Commandment.
The skeptical religious scholar tried to stump Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus gave a innovative answer. He didn’t answer “Commandment Three” or “Commandment Eight.” Instead, Jesus combined all Ten Commandments into one Great Commandment (elsewhere and later in the New Testament it became known as the “Law of Love,” or the “Law of Christ”).
The Great Commandment comes in two parts (legs) with the second part having a third part (leg) that provides the “Tripod of Love” upon which to stabilize and simplify love. Can you find all three parts in Jesus’ answer, which follows?
Jesus said to the religious scholar, “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.” (Matthew 22:37–39)
Actually, the first leg has a smaller tripod in it, doesn’t it? Love God has three parts, with “heart, soul, and mind.”
But, did you find the bigger tripod? The second part has two parts: neighbor and self. Thus, the “Tripod of Love” includes loving God, self, and neighbor.
The second part has sort of a chicken and egg factor. Do we love ourselves first or our neighbor? Well, we are our own neighbor, right? Hence, we do well to love ourselves God’s way; then, we can love our neighbors God’s way too.
Self-love is not selfish, it flows out of God’s love for us. A person who believes they are loved by God will become more loving toward their own self. In turn, they will be able to love their neighbor. On the other hand, a person who doesn’t believe they are loved, especially by God, will have a difficult time loving others.
Love is delicate and Jesus’ “Tripod of Love” helps us humans find balance in love. Our love for God shows itself in love for our neighbor.
Thankfully, true love doesn’t begin with us. We are God’s conduit of love. Love flows through us from God.
The Bible says “God is love,” And, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son for our eternal life.” Best of all, it says, “We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother or sister.” (1 John 4:19–21)
Jesus’ “Tripod of Love” stands securely on all three legs of love. “The greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Giv’m Heaven! – John
John Parker, is a pastor and teacher at Chowchilla Simple Church 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. For information call: (209) 564-7201.