The breath of God has given us life, built us to think, to feel, to love, and to learn. We are made in His image, given capacity to understand His mysteries and to search out His love. He leaves no question unanswered, and His answers often exceed our expectations. A few weeks ago, my husband and I looked at this passage from Deuteronomy.
“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. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – [Deuteronomy 6:4-9]
It is not a new passage to us, but in the past few weeks, I feel the Lord has taken me to the core of what it means to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength. I started with a desire, a cry in my heart – “Lord, show me what it means to love You with all that I am.” Now, a couple of weeks later, I find myself saying to God, “Thank you for Your heart, Your love, Your strength.”
Loving God is an experience, a lifestyle, a decision, and most importantly, a relationship. We love God, because He first loved us [1 John 4:19]. We love Him because He gives us capacity to feel, and to demonstrate love. He gives us free-will so that we can choose to love. He gives us a desire to love, and to be loved. We can love God with:
- Our heart (passions, emotions)
- Our mind (thoughts, study)
- Our strength (obedience).
Looking at the Greek gives us an even simpler insight into what God’s says is the first, and the greatest commandment –to love Him with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength [Mark 12:29-20]. Referenced from biblehub.com (http://biblehub.com/text/deuteronomy/6-5.htm)
- Heart = “lebab” (לֵבָב) = your inner man, mind, will, heart
- Soul = “nephresh” (נָ֫פֶשׁ) = life, living being, desire, passion, appetite
- Strength = “meod” (מְאֹד) = muchness, exceedingly, abundantly, with force
When we look at this, we see that God basically gives us a command to love Him with everything – our life, our whole being. As my sister puts it, we are to love God with MORE, with FORCE, and with much more MUCHNESS.
So, how do we get to this point?
Revelation 2:1-7 contains a letter to the church of Ephesus. This church was commended for perseverance, their laboring for the Name of God, and their intolerance of false apostles. Yet, God shares with them a striking rebuke. He says,
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen: repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” – [Revelation 2:5]
The letter to the church of Ephesus is also prefaced by a reminder of who Jesus is:
“…These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven lampstands.” – [Revelation 2:1]
Earlier in the book of Revelation, we are told that the seven stars are then angels of the churches, and the seven lampstands are the churches to whom God speaks. So, we know that Jesus knows us. He walks in the midst of the churches, and He knows them. Jesus walks with us, and He knows us. He knows our works, but He wants our hearts. He knows our capacity and our capability for love, and He takes us to a place where we can love Him more. Remember that first love? It can be a growing love, an eternal love, a love from our all.
In the last few weeks, I have seen God, the one who knows me completely, break me down in every aspect of my life and character. I have come face to face with my sin, face to face with my weaknesses, face to face with my inadequacies. In all this, as I have been stripped to the core, vulnerable and laid bare, I have seen the unmistakable love, glory, will and strength of my God. Incredible.
The journey has seemed so paradoxical. My heart, my mind, and my strength are grieved as I acknowledge all my weaknesses. Yet, they are also filled with greater joy as I recognise the presence and strength of God in all these areas. His encouragement, His reminders of fulfilled promise were overwhelmingly, and abundantly clear in the last few weeks. There were testimonies, signs, and just so many moments where God’s word, and His purposes were clearly heard, and clearly confirmed. At the same time, I felt I also saw the struggle between my spirit and my flesh more clearly. I saw the battle, I saw the consequences, and I saw the grace of God.
God doesn’t need my words, my works, or my ministry. God wants my heart – all of it. He wants your heart. He wants the heart of the nations. He is passionate for relationship. In these last few weeks, God showed me again how much He loves, how greatly He yearns for us to turn and draw nearer to Him. The only way I am able to love God with all my heart, all my mind and all my strength, is to recognise how flawed they are, and to submit them to God.
Then, God transforms me. He transforms my heart, my mind, and my strength with the fullness of His love, with Himself, His more, and His all. He shows me how He loves me so that I, in myself, and in my all, cannot do anything but love Him more and declare His praises. I do this is my weakness, in my strength, in my doubting and in my surety. I do this in my free-will, and I do this in my perseverance. My work is worship, my prayers are praise, and my life is a living sacrifice to the Lord who gave it to me.
“…there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – [Mark 12:32-33]
This commandment to love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength, is one I will keep. I will teach it to others, speak of it wherever I go, allow it to direct my actions, to adjust my sight, and to have authority in all areas of my life and being. As we come up to Easter, I encourage you to remember the love of Christ. He died for the cleansing of our sins, and the restoration of our lives in the Father’s presence. He died AND rose again to lift us up so that we could enjoy eternal life in relationship with Him. Let Him love you with Himself, His more, and His all. Let Him show you how you can love Him with yourself, your more, and all your all. Let us submit ourselves to the love of Christ, that He might fill us to overflowing with it!