“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Deuteronomy means “the second law” and although the name of the book includes the word “law”, the overall theme of the book could be summed up in two words: love and obey. I always tell our children to “listen and obey.” I think love and obey is much better and such a sweet reminder of our Heavenly Father.
He [God] revealed His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel. Psalm 103:7
Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy. I feel as if this is very important to consider because he actually spoke to God. I’m not sure how you feel, but that makes Moses pretty credible in my mind. This wasn’t simply a good biography someone decided to write based off of research and interviews of others who knew God. Moses knew God personally and had a face-to-face meeting with Him on Mount Sinai. That gives Moses some “street cred” in my book! So, let’s dig into these verses from Deuteronomy 6.
This first word grabs my attention, just as it was meant to when these words were spoken so long ago to the Israelites. When I’m speaking to my children, a group I’m leading or sharing with and I need a statement to stand out from all the rest I’ve said, I say, “Ok, Listen up! Pay attention! This is important! If you don’t hear anything else I’ve said today, hear this.”
The first word (Listen) is our first clue to pay close attention to these two verses because they hold significant value and truth to be learned. Our second clue is that this same truth is repeated in scripture and was spoken by Jesus Himself. He told a scribe (Mark 12:28-31) that to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength” is the first and greatest commandment with “love your neighbor as yourself” coming in second.
I know many of us have heard this verse over and over again in our days of church and Bible study. Sometimes, when we have heard scriptures repeated over and over again they can lose their power and depth. I feel as if this verse is one of those. So let’s sit and pick it apart a little.
Verse 4: “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Israel was full of idol worship at the time and needed a little attention grabber, a reminder of who the One, true God was. This is still very relevant for us today. Although we don’t make little golden statues to worship, sometimes we begin to place other desires and self before God. This is also idol worship. Anything we put a priority on above God is an idol. Even if it’s our children, worry, money, career, friends, etc. No matter how long you have been a Christian, as long as we are in this flesh, we will struggle with keeping God front and center in all we think, do and say. Staying in the Word of God and in communication with Him through prayer is the way to tackle the weakness of our flesh.
Verse 5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
I want to look at this from a little different angle. It’s my heart’s desire, in life, to be ALL in for God, but often I’m not using all my heart, soul and strength to love God. However, it is usually easier to love God than it is some of His children. Am I alone here? Sometimes, people make it so difficult to love them. God is growing and strengthening this muscle in me. I strive to offer everyone, despite their actions or words, the grace, and acceptance that God grants me because we can’t love God and hate His children.
“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40
Our son came home from school the other day and told me about a child in one of his classes that has been working hard to grab the attention of the others in the class. “Mom, he’s so annoying and I try to talk to him some, but he interrupts my conversations and it’s so distracting.” I used this opportunity to continue growing my own “love others” muscle as I explained to him the young man was probably feeling left out and just wanted to make new friends but wasn’t sure how to do it. And then I told him my secret for loving God’s people when they make it so difficult. When I’m struggling to love another child of God, I say to myself, “Jesus died for _[insert name of challenging person to love]___ on the cross, just like He did for me.” Sometimes, it’s all about perspective!
May God richly bless you this week as you seek Him and His glorious ways.
Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green. She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.