“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
If you are like me, you tend to forget that the book of Deuteronomy is an awesome book in the bible that is full of great advice for the people of Israel and for us today. The verse above appears right after chapter five where the Ten Commandments are given, and that magnificent chapter begins with Moses telling the people: “Hear, O Israel, the statues and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them.” (Deut. 5:1) He tells the people that they need to learn all the statues and judgments, and then after they have learned them, to be careful to obey them!
Then after Moses has given the people the Ten Commandments, he again admonishes them: “Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or the left, You shall walk in all the ways in which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land you shall possess.” (Deut. 5:32-33)
If you have read farther in the Bible you know that the people of Israel did not do so well in following these instructions. They were pretty good at turning to the right or the left from time to time and sometimes even completely getting off the straight path and starting their own path that obeyed some things and disobeyed many others. Sadly we have some of the same problems today. We each think that we can make the decisions about which of God’s laws we want to obey and which we chose to disregard.
But in spite of their unfaithfulness, God was always faithful! He disciplined them from time to time, but always took them back when they repented of their sins and returned to Him. He showed His supreme attribute of faithfulness when He sent His Son to earth to be the ultimate sacrifice for their sins, and our sins for all time.
So what is the key to living for God that has not changed ever since God gave Moses the words to write in Deuteronomy 6:4? We need only go to the New Testament and see what Jesus tells us, when He was questioned by a lawyer of the Pharisees saying: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36)
“Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
In the gospels of Mark and Luke the story is told also, but Luke follows up with the story of the Good Samaritan when the Pharisee asks, ‘who is my neighbor?’ So there it is in its’ simplest form, for people like you and I. We are to love the LORD our God with everything we have! Our hearts, souls, and minds! With everything that we have? How do we do that? I am sure there are many people much wiser than I that can give you a better explanation, but simply put, I am to put God first in everything I do and say. He is my heavenly Father, and I will do all I can to obey what He has taught me through His Son and the writings of the His prophets and apostles in the Bible.
I am going to show how much I love Him by loving all the people He has put in my life because everyone I come in contact with in this life is my neighbor. Yes, even those that are not very likable, or those who are downright mean, or hateful to me. Jesus even tells me that I am to love my enemies!
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Wait a minute! Jesus has given me an impossible mission! You are correct, if you are trying to do it on your own strength and power. You and I can do it only if we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we have a genuine desire to love our God with all our heart, soul, and strength. So how are you doing in this loving our God thing? I’ll confess, its hard, no, it is impossible unless I totally surrender my life to Him and ask Him each morning to fill me with His Spirit and work through me to advance His kingdom.
As we remember what He did on the cross for our sins, and how He has been the faithful One, even when we have not always been so faithful, let us strive to let Him take control of our lives today, that we can love him more passionately and the people He has put in our lives today.
1. Dear precious Lord, fill me with Your Spirit right now that I may be used by You to love my spouse, my children, my next door neighbor the way You love me.
2. Bring to my mind anyone that has been cruel or unjust to me and help me to forgive them and love them just as you did, just before You died on the cross, and said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
3. Help me to be obedient to all that You have instructed me to do in your word, so that I can demonstrate to You and, to those around me, my love for You.