What is the meaning and significance of Maximum Mandatum?
Lizzy Borden. William Shakespeare. Tom Brady. George Washington. Betsy Ross. Davy Crockett. Charles Spurgeon. David Ortiz. Hilary Clinton. Charles Manson. John Calvin. When you hear these names, specific thoughts come your to mind—whether positive or negative—based on the reputation of these individuals. Names are necessary to distinguish one person, place, or thing from another and to allow for the development of opinions regarding their nature and character.
When my my wife and I were naming our children, certain names she picked out brought up negative connotations from certain individuals in my past. So, rather than commemorate the antagonists of my adolescence, I searched for names that carried no baggage with them, names that had no real meaning yet (to me at least). This personal anecdote does more than reveal my gross immaturity, it proves my point―names are necessary, helpful, and they stick.
The Intention of the Name
When I decided to start a blog, I knew I had to pick a name, and much like my children’s names, I put some thought into it. Only this time I did not avoid bad memories, but I did seek something unique and unused with plenty of opportunity for a reputation to be fashioned. I’m not sure how I first came across it, but Maximum Mandatum is Latin for “greatest commandment”—a Scriptural theme I am constantly returning to in my preaching, counseling, parenting, and personal walk.
When I say “greatest commandment,” certain connotations come to mind, specifically Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-39: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This overarching command is a call to unrestricted devotion to God and unrestrained love toward others. This is total abandonment of self.
It is my desire to have every post on this site intentionally support you as you seek to fulfill this maximum mandatum in your life. Maybe you are not even a believer in God or His Word, but this command applies to you too and I desire to help show you that your God had a specific intention in mind when He created you in His image—a joy-filled, exciting life with purpose.
The Intention of the Creator
The systemic problem that we all face being born into this fallen world is that, like Narcissus, we take one look at ourselves and fall in deep with deadly infatuation. We love ourselves first and foremost. All manifestations of sin grow out of this fundamental disposition. All wickedness and injustice in this world come not from countries or corporations, but from self-centered, self-motivated individuals. No one can deny that they have contributed in some way at some point in their life. We are all turned in on ourselves and subsequently turn on each other. We worship ourselves to our own demise and to the destruction of others. This is not satisfying.
This is not what we were created for. We were designed to worship something, namely Someone, infinitely greater than ourselves—our Holy Creator. We were created to find fulfillment in reflecting His image and serving Him. But the bad news is that when our first parents rebelled against Him, they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image of corruptible man. This is our inheritance. We traded in our dignity for shame, all in the name of autonomy.
The good news is that God has provided His Son—the perfect, radiant image of His glory—to redeem us and make us new. Jesus did not only command us to love God and serve others with His words, but with the entirety of His being, He lived out this overarching principle perfectly and exemplified it for us by His righteous life and self-sacrificial death on the cross. He is our only hope of salvation.
When God redeems us, He seeks to conform us to the image of His Son, to restore us to His original design. When we love God with every fiber of our being—our intellect, affections, and will—we are living as we were designed. We are reflecting the very glory of God revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Because self worship is our fundamental problem, it must be replaced with the worship of Someone infinitely greater than ourselves. Then and only then are we able to love others more than ourselves. Our love for God is primary. Our love for others flows out of it and is made possible as we seek to glorify Him. The order matters.
Therefore, this greatest commandment—the maximum mandatum— is the very pith and kernel, the warp and woof, of the Christian life. Our essential purpose is laid out plain and clear. All of the commands, imperatives, and principles of Scripture are summarized within this command. Like a tiny seed, all the fabric of information is inside. The Christian life is the way of the cross—the total abandonment of self for absolute devotion to God which constantly overflows in self-sacrifice for others.
The Intention of This Blog
Now that you know what Maximum Mandatum means, you understand the purpose of this site. John Calvin wrote, “The observance of the commandments consists not in the love of ourselves, but in the love of God and our neighbor . . . His is the best and most holy life, who lives as little as possible to himself” (Inst. II: vii. 54). Jesus showed us that true living involves dying. This paradoxical picture is summed up in the phrase “living sacrifice.” I desire to have have the best and holy life I was designed for. Of course I do it imperfectly, but I seek to intentionally live out this purpose in my everyday, ordinary life as I rub shoulders with other people in God’s universe.
Further, I desire to help you do the same and connect the greatest commandment to every practical area of your life. Oftentimes the problem we face in our Christian experience is connecting our orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The key is found in appropriate affections—love for God and love for others. If this is the greatest commandment, we must believe that following it will provide the framework for the most fulfilling life we could possibly have here in this world. We must pursue this with the entirety of our being as the command so clearly indicates.
Rather than only writing personal testimonies and updates, you can expect to find me writing about biblical, historical, and systematic theology; apologetics and evangelism; marriage and parenting; preaching and the local church; and fostering; with the occasional exposition of a text, book review, or some other literary analysis. I plan to begin with a series on the greatest commandment and fully exhaust its meaning as it relates to God, creation, man, the fall, the OT, NT, etc.
I look forward to this journey as it is my greatest joy to study God’s Word, explain it and apply it. I aim to inform your intellect with God’s propositional truth, ignite your affections for His perfections, and incline your will toward self-sacrificial service.
This is what we were designed for.
This is the best life.
This is the most exciting life.
This is what we will pursue together.