Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)
These words aren’t intended to be passed over. They’re intended to be proclaimed and lived out. Speak them. Claim them. These are surely among the verses most spoken for thousands of years, as they are part of the Shema, a central prayer in the Jewish faith. These verses are among the first taught to Jewish children. Tangible reminders throughout daily routines remind Jewish people of these words.
Do you know them better as words or as truth?
You’ll find no shortage of commentaries explaining what loving God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might actually means. You can find explanations of why Mark’s references to these verses includes loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, while Matthew includes only heart, soul, and mind. Understanding is good; God wants us to seek. But let’s not lose the basics in our quest for more.
The bottom line is we’re to love God with and in everything. There are no exceptions. There’s no compartmentalized corner of our lives that we can claim is separated from loving God. God doesn’t separate His care for us, and He doesn’t separate His will for us. He doesn’t say, “In this situation, you should love Me with everything you have, but in this other area, you can slight Me.”
God isn’t stingy with His love. We shouldn’t be stingy with it either. God gives us His all. We respond by giving Him our all. We don’t wait until He proves himself. We don’t wait until we get what we want or expect. We give because God already gave (and continues to give). We love because God already loved (and continues to love).
What does it look like to love with all your heart, soul, and might? It’s not an unhealthy kind of love that gives even when your empty. It doesn’t try to measure up to someone’s expectation or mimic someone else’s love. It doesn’t meet the unrealistic demands of selfishness. It relies on God.
Loving God with all your heart, soul, and might means giving Him your life. It means giving Him honor. It means trusting Him for provision. Because of your love for God, you can love others. Love won’t be unhealthy, because it’s God-driven. You don’t love others with all your heart, soul, and might, because that’s reserved for God. Loving others comes out of your love for God. When the love relationship between you and God is right, your other relationships will be loving. Not perfect, but loving. Love is God-honoring, because it’s God-created and God-driven, so when we love as God loves, we glorify Him.
God loves us. We love God. We love others. Our love for others honors God, which puts God’s love on display. We can’t skip the process. We can’t say, “Because God loves me, I will put His love on display.” We try to go through the motions without building on the foundation.
Love God with all your heart, soul, and might. As you keep your eyes on Him, He’ll guide your steps. He won’t keep you in a bubble. Some of the love He tells you to pour out onto others will seem impossible. It is…without God. You can only give what God pours into you. If you try to love anyone or anything in the world with your heart, soul, and might, you’ll come up short. But as He fills you and you continue to yield, you will overflow onto the world around you.
Dear God, point out the places in my life where I am not loving You with completion. Show me the areas in which I’m loving others before I love You or loving others without fully relying on You. I want everything in my life to honor You. Prune my life and fill the gaps.