During this time of isolation, it can be even easier to get consumed with something: a project, a show, or a hobby. Many things that might not have been a high priority before can become very important to us now and can easily fill up our lives. There is something better that must fill our lives.
In my study I recently came across a familiar passage. Deuteronomy 6:5 — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
This passage is repeated in the Gospels and no matter the season we need to be reminded of it regularly.
- Matthew 22:37–39 — And He said to him, “‘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 foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
- Mark 12:29–30 — Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”
- Luke 10:27 — And He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
One bible scholar pointed out that in Deuteronomy 6:5 the word ‘might’ at the end is a Hebrew word that is hard to translate into English. We translate it might, or strength. He coined a phrase called your “very-ness.”
I looked up the definition of the word. It means muchness, force, abundance, exceedingly. The idea is more… love Him more so that it fills up all of you, your whole life. In other words, when you think about your heart, your soul, your very-ness…you are to love God with all of you, for all your days. The point in stacking these terms up is that God deserves all of us…our whole being. Our whole lives are to be directed toward Him, because there is no other God besides Him.
I have been meditating on what it looks like to love God with all of me: how I think about my circumstances, how I speak to those around me, how I do tasks and respond to challenges. I have much to learn regarding growing in the love of God, but I am excited to do so as there is great blessing in this process.
I have also been meditating on how the context of these passages in the Old and New Testaments have many commands from the Lord: how God’s people are to obey Him, and trust Him and listen to what He says regarding how they are to live and treat other people. He is to literally be the center of our actual lives…our lives are to revolve around Him in everything we say, do and think. This sounds overwhelming and I believe it is supposed to be because we have an overwhelming, wonderful God who deserves the whole creation to glorify Him.
Since this is overwhelming, it is important to understand that obedience to these commands must flow out of a heart of love. We must be more overwhelmed by His love. We will only obey Him if we believe He is the most important part of our lives…let me rephrase that…not a part of our lives, but that He is our very lives as Col 3:3-4 indicates.
Colossians 3:3–4 — For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
There is something freeing when we think about the simple truth that God is worthy of all our being. Christ is our life. He isn’t to just be a part of our lives. It is also important to remember that we love God because He first loved us….He rescues, not a part of us, but all of our being and for all eternity, and so that is the basis by which we are to love Him.
1 John 4:19 — We love, because He first loved us.
His love is overwhelming. He rescued His people from slavery and death in Egypt. He rescues His people from sin and death, by dying to pay for our sin and defeat death through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated His love by dying for us.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5, is referred as the ‘Shema’ as that is the Hebrew word for listen/hear. As we read this passage, it is clear that we are to listen; to pay attention as it says something very simple yet profound, namely that there is no one like our God. He is one. He is altogether unique and set apart, holy and unlike any other. There is nothing and no one who is worthy of all our devotion but Him.
Deuteronomy 6:4 — “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
So then, what does it look like to love God with all your heart, soul, and might? Well it starts with listening to what He says and consuming His testimony about Himself through His word. As we do that we recognize how loyal God’s love has been to His people for generations. It requires me to think about Him and read about Him and ponder what He has done and what He is like based on His word. Loving God is something we “shall do,” in other words it is something we are to always be growing in.
Our God is faithful unlike any other. He is a covenant keeping God, even though we don’t deserve His love and faithfulness. The more I read the bible, the more I see how we as mankind do not love God like He deserves and yet He is still loyal to His covenant with His people. I need to be reminded of that every day. I need to be reminded that I don’t deserve His love and that He will never withdraw His love because He is not like any other. Therefore, my response – our response – is to love Him more…love Him with abundance, exceedingly, with all my very-ness.
So much of our relationships are based on complicated barter systems. As I learn about what He has done at Calvary and throughout history, I learn what His character is, and how He is not like any other relationship, and His covenant of love is not like any other covenant. It is eternally sealed on the basis of the blood of Christ that was shed for me. And so, a relationship with the only God, is unlike any other relationship.
As I mediate on those amazing truths, I can direct not only my affections to Him, but my commitment to Him, because of His unfailing love and commitment to me through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not a barter system as God has already given me His best: His one and only son. He loved me when I was His enemy, and by His grace and mercy He gave me more than I deserve, more than I can ever replay. There is no trade, but there is the privilege to love and worship Him more and more throughout my whole life.
The joy of the Christian life is that I can always grow to love God more, because His love for me is unchanging. I can continue to worship Him with my very-ness, because of His essence, His character, His very-ness. Isn’t that blessing amazing…that I can grow to love Him more and more and more, but His perfect eternal love for me never changes? That is something to be consumed by.
We think about so many things throughout the day. We love, value and want so many things. We believe so many things will satisfy us, but there is only one who can, and there is only one worthy of all our heart, all our soul, all our very-ness.
And so, my prayer for you, myself and all followers of Christ would echo Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:
Ephesians 3:14–21 — For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.