I dig getting notes from my kids. Often one of my girls will draw me a picture and let me know that they love me. Yesterday my daughter drew a picture of a golf course with me hitting a ball into the hole. Two things struck me (besides the fact she thinks I can hit a golf ball at all!). She drew herself playing next to me. It was really cute! She also wrote “I love you dad” on the back of the paper.
Those things thrill dads and moms. Those things thrill gods, at least the God of the Bible … the God that would rather die than live without us. He longs to hear us say “I love you Dad!”. That is a weird concept to think through. Why would this perfect God want us to love him and what does that look like?
When Jesus summarized these first 4 commands he summarized it by saying: LOVE.
Read: Deuteronomy 5:6-12; Mark 12:28-31
6 “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
7 “You must not have any other god but me.
8 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 9 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
11 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. 30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
New Living Translation
Our last 4 devos on the 10 Commandments dealt with the “first tablet of the Law” or the first 4 commands. These commands are all about our vertical relationship with God. The final 6 commands are all about our horizontal relationships with others.
When Jesus was asked to pick his favorite command ... he didn’t! He avoided the temptation to choose one over the other! (This is instructive for us that have memorized John 3:16 but have no clue what John 3:17 says!) Instead, he summarizes the message of the 10 commands into 1 driving model: LOVE. Really it is love in 2 directions, love toward God (vertical) and love toward others (horizontal – Mk. 12:30, 31).
In other words, the entire deal is about loving God and loving others. We are to love God with our emotions (heart), our soul (personality), our thinking (mind) and our efforts (strength). We cannot have compartmentalized lives! We are called to love God sacrificially. The Greek word used here is agape. We are not called to love God as a buddy or as a peer or in romantic love. We are to agape love God sacrificially.
If we compare the first 4 commands with these 4 areas we see some interesting things:
Command #1: No other gods = love God with all your heart – if he captures your heart you will not look to other things to satisfy your needs. He will be enough.
Command #2: No idols = love God with all your soul – your soul is the part of you that houses the personality, the will. It is the part that looks for meaning and purpose. It is therefore the part that makes idols if you search for meaning outside of God.
Command #3: Don’t use His name thoughtlessly = love God with all your mind – what you put into your mind will come out in your life.
Command #4: Rest from work = love God with all your strength
Think through the comparisons. They are deeper then we can cover here. Bottom line, God wants us, indeed commands us to love him.
Take your temperature. What is your love like for God today? Be honest. Jesus said if we are forgiven much we will love God much. To what extent are you conscious of how much you needed to be forgiven to be right with God? The answer to that question will show up in your love for God.
The book of Revelation talks about Christians whose love for God went cold. He gave them a formula to fix it:
Remember the height from which you have fallen
Repent back to God and away from sin
Redo the things you did at first – get back to that love relationship when you reflected on God’s sacrifice and love for you shown in Jesus Christ on the cross. Redo what you did in the beginning. Read his word to MEET with him not to check a box. Pray but also listen. Be with God's people in celebration and accountability.
Pretty simple, just takes a lifetime to live it out!
DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.