Theme of the Week: Four Essential Loves
Bible Verse: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Scripture Reading: Mark 12:28-34
It is safe to say that little else devastates the human soul as much or more than failed, rejected, or frustrated love. Yet this almost inevitably is what occurs when love for another human being or for any other object is allowed to usurp our love for God. The insatiable need for that love found in the perfect soul mate is driven by a longing for deliverance from that which Adam needed deliverance even before the entrance of sin into human history, namely, aloneness. But when we allow love for any object, activity, or person prominence in our lives, we have committed sin, the sin of idolatry. Even the God-ordained love between a husband and wife or between parent and child when allowed to become the main driving force in our life becomes idolatrous.
It would be very difficult to find any Scripture that provides a more incisive picture of what loving God entails than is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, a passage referred to as the Shema. It is this passage with which every devout Jew begins and ends his day; and it is this passage to which Jesus himself referred when asked by a religious leader of his day to identify the greatest commandment.
From the outset, the Shema establishes that God is one, undivided and furthermore is the only one! This declaration was set in stark contrast to the polytheistic culture in which the nation of ancient Israel was situated. Just as Jehovah was one and undivided so must their love for and allegiance to God be undivided.
There are many legitimate entities that, if allowed, can and will demand our loyalty to the point of diminishing our unrivaled, wholehearted love for our God. On numerous occasions Jesus underscored the necessity of undivided loyalty in the lives of his followers. Jesus emphasized that the priority of his kingdom and righteousness must be sought first. This commanding priority of loving God makes it impossible for a person to serve two masters, and it is from that undivided loyal love that all other loves must flow.
The love that God demands in this “foremost” or greatest command calls for the entirety of our humanness – our intellect, emotion, physical energy, and volition – to be engaged if it is to be acceptable to God and influential in shaping our lives. In essence loving God with my whole being is an act of obedience.
In essence loving God with my whole being is an act of obedience.
To love God is to obey his commands not out of a suffocating sense of obligation but out of a recognition and acceptance of the love that God has already extended to us. Thus, our obedience to God and his decrees is not driven by fear and its companion, uncertainty, but by love.
Personal Reflection: What potential idols do you see in your own life right now that could possibly usurp God as the supreme object of your delight?
Taken from Four Essential Loves: Heart Readiness for Leadership and Ministryby William R. McAlpine Copyright © 2013 by William R. McAlpine. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401
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