You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Yesterday’s verse gave God’s godhood was given as a starting point. God is God. I have to fight down my inner monologue’s “No duh.” to that statement. But the verse goes a step further. God is MY God. He is not merely some impersonal deity out in the cosmos somewhere being disinterested in me and my life. He is, instead, my God. What should my response to that be? Love.
If I begin by hearing that the LORD is MY God and that He is singular; unique; holy, then it should prompt me to love. But is not merely a casual love. This is not to love Him the way that I love puppies or a warm shower. I love these in a purely experiential way — while I experience them, but I can go for long periods without giving them a thought. This is not even to love Him the way that I love my friends and family. I love them and call them to mind so that I can enjoy loving them and remind myself of why they are wonderful. When we get to the love of spouse or children, we are beginning to approach the love Moses is talking about. I do not have to call my wife and children to mind, they are simply there. Things remind me of them. Idle thoughts turn to them. This, however, falls short of what Moses is talking about.
Moses says that I should love God with all of my heart, soul, and strength. The word translated all means precisely that. I am to love with absolutely everything. Every ounce of strength; every thought; every action is to be consumed by love for God. And love for God will overflow into all the places that I ought to love. If I love God in this way, then I will love my wife better. If I love God in this way, then I will love my children better. Every love relationship benefits from loving God with everything I have. As Shakespeare wrote, love grows as we give it. As I love God more and more, I learn to love others better and better.
The ideas of heart and soul seem similar when I look them up. There is a fair bit of overlap. What those two ideas comprise is my thoughts and emotions and will and … well, really everything that makes me me; everything that is not physical. My strength is more the physical side of things. I am to live out my love for God in both physical and non-physical ways. I should live out my love for Him in service and praise and prayer and so on (physical). I should live out my love for Him in obedience (both physical and not). I should live out my love for Him in the thoughts I dwell on and the feelings I choose to entertain and the desires that I permit to remain (non-physical).
I feel like this entry is a bit of a mental ramble., but the injunction Moses gives is far-reaching and impacts literally every aspect of my life. I need to be consumed by love for my God and everything else will fall in line.
I once heard a pastor comment that Moses prefaces many of the commands in Deuteronomy with the phrase you shall love the LORD your God and …. I think that I would like to put that to the test. If it is as prevalent as all that, then this book — far from being a long-winded repetition of The Law — becomes a manual on what motivates obedience to The Law. And it all begins with love.
Thank You, Father, for loving me. Please stir up love within me as a right response to Your love. I have often been cold and distant and not preoccupied with You. Please make that right and teach me to be consumed by You.