Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Love the Lord Your God....

Perhaps one of the few verses that is known more than any others (besides John 3:16) is

Deuteronomy 6:5 - You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your might.

And even more interesting, the verse hardly varies between translations (OPB).  One or two version may substitute "whole" for "all" which is barely even a difference.  And a few translations use "strength" instead of "might" - the idea here (m@ 'od) is that we should love the Lord "to the highest degree" (Strong's H3966), both "strength" and "might" do justice in this case I believe.

Anyhow, now that I've crammed your brain full of more Hebrew...let's get to the basic principal of this verse.  This verse contains the "first principles of faith and obedience" (Henry).  After all, "this was made the first and great commandment of God's law that we love Him and that we perform all other parts of our duty to Him from a principle of love" (Henry, Matt. 22:36-38).  This brings two questions to my mind: Why is this the greatest commandment and what does this love look like?  What does it look like to love with all your heart and with all you mind and with all your might?

So, why is love the Lord's first and greatest commandment?  Henry provides what I believe to be a sufficient and simple answer: "for the warmer our affection to Him, the greater will be our veneration for Him."  I went ahead and found a definition of "veneration" - "a feeling or expression of awe or reverence...to worship, revere" (Dictionary.com).  Think about the kids you know - if a child truly honors, respects, and obeys their parents, truly reveres them, most likely truly loves them.  The more you love someone, the more you want that person to be happy - so you do what they ask wholeheartedly and respect their decisions without qualm. 

The next question is a little bit more difficult.  What does this "love" look like?  Henry gives 5 aspects of this love, we must love with a:

1.   Sincere Love – “not in word and tongue only, saying we love Him when our hearts are not with Him, but inwardly and in truth, [comforting] ourselves in Him.”

2.   Strong Love -  “the heart must be carried out towards Him with great [passion] and [intense] affection.”  It my mind, this means it should be something that people notice about you.  When people are passionate about something, you generally know what it is because they talk about it all the time.  The passion infests their lives – they live, sleep, eat, and breath their passion.

3.   Superlative Love – “we must love God above any creature [human, item, idea] whatsoever…”  Simple as that.

4.   Intelligent Love – “for…to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, we must know Him and therefore love Him as those that see good cause to love Him.”  Basically, why would you love someone you don’t even know?  If you do it is a shallow kind of love.  True love means you know a vast amount about that person and each day you want to know more.

5.   Entire Love – “He is one, and therefore our hearts must be united in this love, and the whole stream of our affections must run towards Him.”

Love that comes from our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole might isn’t a simple love – it is complex and, at times, very difficult.  But our relationship with Christ calls for it, demands it.  What does a relationship with our Creator, our God, look like without just one of these aspects?  One missing brick, one hole, and the whole thing falls apart.

Today I challenge you to pick one of those 5 aspects that you need to work on the most.  Set time aside and journal why you need to work on that aspect and be honest!  Next write down 3 practical things you can do throughout the week to overcome that weak area and then do them! For example:

I think I struggle mostly with "entire love."  The stream of my affections goes in 1 million different directions - to crafting, blogging, reading, work, my to-do list, the list goes on and on and on.  There are days when I would much rather be reading a book or doing something crafty than spending time in God's word or going to church.  But if I can manage to stream my affections towards Him, I would be much better off.  How can I do this?
  1. Put my relationship with Him as a priority - do my devotions first and then start my to-do list.
  2. On busy days, set aside more than 5 minutes for God.  After all, Time is Love right?
  3. Check my motives.  Why am I making this craft?  For selfish purposes or because my passion for God is bubbling over?

Hopefully my transparency gives you the motivation or inspiration you need to make a change today!  Have a blessed week!

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