Today I want to share briefly on something that is repeated a lot in the Old Testament after the law was given to the people of Israel.
Read Deuteronomy 6.1-5, Deuteronomy 11.22, and Matthew 22.37-40.
Loving the Lord is a fundamental commandment
When God redeemed his children from Egypt and sent them to the Promised Land, he gave them laws through Moses. These laws were meant to guide and protect them and to allow them to serve God in a manner that God himself would be pleased with. When he gave the law, one fundamental one he indicated to them was to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength.
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind
When we come to Matthew, the Pharisees came to tempt Jesus by asking him what the greatest commandment was. They had come the first time for Jesus to deal with them and so had the Sadducees came to ask about the resurrection. But the Pharisees came again to ask about the greatest commandment. Then Jesus told them it was to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and mind. He added a second and then said all the law and prophets hinged on these. The requirements of the law and prophets are all met by loving the Lord.
Have affection for the Lord and be intimate with him
Love requires affection and intimacy so why would God require it of Israel? Every child of God was expected to obey this commandment, so it is important for every one of us to know that this is required of us.
God knew what it meant for the people to love him because he knew he was placing them on a land with many distractions and with a lot of things with the potential to take the minds and thoughts of the people from him so he commanded that they should not have their attention on anything else but him.
What it means to love God
What does it mean to love God and how do we express our love for God and what happens to us when we express our love for him?
To love God is to have affection towards God
How much do you love God and how do you express your love for him? How much do you think about God in your day? When you rise up is he part of you? When you are taking decisions do you think about him? Is God part of your ways? Is he part of your life? Is he part of your daily activities? If you are unable to answer some of these questions, then you must check your relationship with him. If we love him, we will place him in the middle of every aspect of our lives. We will not act outside his will.
In what ways does loving God help build a relationship with him?
If we love him we will obey him
It is very easy to obey God when you love him; when you have a strong affection for God. When you have built an intimate relationship with him, it is very difficult to step out of his will. It is difficult to look at God and say, “You told me this, but I won’t do it.”
If we love him we will serve him
Many of us just come and go and can’t point to anything we do for God or in the name of God. To be able to walk with him, serve him, and follow his will, you would have to love him. It is only our love for him that drives us to serve him and drives us closer to him. Our love for God will save us from aligning ourselves with the devil. How can you love God and serve Lucifer? If we love him, we will not have room in our hearts for the devil and the ways of the devil. Jesus said the prince of the world comes and has nothing in him. There was nothing of the devil with him.
You love for God will keep you focused on him
We won’t have distractions and things cannot draw us away from his presence.
If you look at the people of Israel and how low they sank—there came a time when God disappeared from their vocabulary. These were a people that God had redeemed with great power. Sometimes God himself came into their battles and fought for them. When you see how the people of Israel fell so that they were even worshipping idols, letting their children pass through fire, giving sacrifices; sometimes their kings, like Saul, fell to the extent that they were consulting with mediums. Saul left God entirely and his death was horrible. Look at kings like Ahab who brought Jezebel and whose end was not good. The alternative they embraced when they rejected God did not end well with them.
Let us redirect our focus to God
Let us redirect our focus and come to our God and have affection for him and build an intimate relationship with him because the alternative to this is not good. Your refusal to love God will drive you far away from him. It will lead you to places you don’t like. It can destroy you, your family, and generations after you. So, Israel fell such that the kingdom that God established through David was split and, for the northern kingdom, their case was so bad—it was only in Judah that sometimes there was a semblance of the worship of God.
Israel scattered around the world and faced tribulation wherever they went. A time came when they were taken into exile and they have suffered persecution even up till now. But this morning, I came to encourage you and also to bring you an assurance that if we live a life of love towards God, he protects us, builds us, establishes us and releases the presence of God around us. Your love for God will drive you to do things that God will always remember. See how David loved God and how he lived for him. His name has become a reference point and, even today, the flag of Israel has the star of David.
May you have love for him and build an intimate relationship with him—one that will stay with you, your children and your children’s children. May you do something that will leave a mark that will be referred to in the future. We have many examples of people who gave offerings that became monuments in our church so that even today their names are mentioned for that.
Deuteronomy 6.1-5 , Deuteronomy 11.22, Matthew 22.37-40