“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Mark 12:30-31 NIV
Welcome to the month of February! All around the world, this month is unofficially known as the month of love, and we’re going to kick it off right by talking about how to love God. It is beautiful to sing and cry about how deep and wide our love for God is in church, but that is the easy part.
If we don’t know how to love God, our devotion will be directed toward ourselves and what God can do for us, rather than who He is to us. We will spend our days asking Him to meet our needs while ignoring what He expects from us. This message is critical in a world that is more self-centred than ever so pay attention.
Our anchor verse appears for the first time in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. In Jewish circles, it is known as the Shema. It’s a prayer they say every day to remind themselves to love and listen to God. In the text, Moses reminds the people of Israel to love their God as they prepare to enter the Promised Land.
They are not to repeat their parents’ errors by pursuing other gods. This is only possible if they love Him. This is not a sentimental kind of love. It is not describing a warm and fuzzy sensation. It is a love that is evidenced by actions. If you truly love God, it will be evident in your actions and behaviour.
When Jesus asked Peter in John 21:15-17 if he loved Him, Peter was quick to respond, but Jesus repeatedly told him how to prove his love by feeding His sheep. This means that your devotion to God can be demonstrated. We can tell who has your heart and attention based on your actions.
If you truly love God, you will be passionate and useful in furthering the kingdom. You’ll be a supplying joint who is dedicated to the gospel’s success (Ephesians 4:16).
You will face persecution for loving God. Paul could point to the marks on his body and his sufferings as evidence of his love for Christ and commitment to the gospel (Galatians 6:17). So you may lose contracts or jobs because you choose to maintain your integrity, you may lose friends because you choose to preach about Christ or refuse to participate in certain activities, but count it all joy. Don’t be ashamed of your sufferings or struggles for the gospel; instead, wear them with pride.
To emphasize his point, Moses instructs the people of Israel to repeat the Shema frequently (Deuteronomy 6:8). If we are to remain true to our convictions in these difficult times, we must remind ourselves to whom we owe our love, allegiance, and loyalty.
Listen, the world wants your heart; however, you must remain faithful to the one who saved your soul. Choose to love the Lord with “all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 16-17