Monday, February 13, 2006

Love the Lord

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. - Deuternomony 6:4-9

Recently, I ran across a song that was built around the familiar verse 5 in the passage above (Click here to listen). As I have been meditating on this passage, there were several things that God was revealing to me about what it truly meant to love Him.

First, loving God means to obey His commands with every aspect of our being. Humans are created not just with physical bodies but with an intellect (our minds) and a spiritual being (our soul). As verse 5 commands us, we are to submit to God's will for our lives in all areas. Nothing is to be withheld from God who created us. This is what sanctification is all about: bringing every aspect of our lives into submission to His will.

Second, obedience should be modeled and taught to our children (verse 7). It is not just our own duty to obey God but to teach our children to obey him as well. God is concerned about multiple generations coming to know Him.

Third, instruction in the Lord is continuous (verse 7). Instruction should happen at all times and at every opportunity. Instruction in the Lord is not just about what happens on Sunday morning or during school hours. It's also not just what we say but what we do that will teach our children. We've not only got to teach God's commands to our children but we need to show His love to them as well.

Fourth, our obedience should be visible to others (verses 8-9). In Jewish tradition, phylacteries were tied to their heads and left arms. These small wooden boxes would contain the Old Testament law. They would also attach mezuzot (small wooden or metal containers in which passages of Scripture would be placed) to the doorframes of their houses. By these symbols they would be proclaiming their allegience to God.

Does this mean that we should be tying boxes to our heads? I don't think so. Indeed, Jesus criticized the Pharisees for this practice because they were focused on gaining attention through the symbols and not obeying God's commands. But the principle behind the practice is still clear: If we love the Lord, it should be visible even to those who do not know Him. Our displays of love are a testimony to His power.

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