DEVOTION: Loving God

There is an abundance of teaching on the love of God in the Church today, which is a good thing, after all, “for God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

God’s love is a central topic of Scripture, but so is our love for Him. The greatest commandment in Judaism is reiterated throughout the New Testament.

Sh’ma, Yisra’elAdonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 CJB

What does it mean to love God? Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God with our heart, soul, and might. The Complete Jewish Bible says that loving God with all your heart “means that one’s love for God should be wholehearted and single-minded.”

The Word heart in this verse means your mind and innermost being; the soul is our emotions, followed by our might (or resources in the Complete Jewish Bible). We first love God by knowing His Word with our minds, followed by walking in love and obedience, and then using our resources for His Kingdom. The order is essential. Some who emphasize loving your neighbor define aspects in such a way that would cause us not to love God. For instance, if you represent loving your neighbor by supporting a lifestyle or behavior that goes against the standard of Scripture, loving my neighbor would cause me to dishonor God. We can love people without supporting sin.

To love God is to walk in obedience to the Scripture. Jesus said in John fourteen, “if you love Me, you will obey Me.” Loving God begins by knowing what Scripture teaches, and the only way we can know what Scripture teaches is by spending time in it. Consequently, this is also partly how we spend time with God. Many love to emphasize the emotional side of their relationship with God in quiet times of thinking or listening to worship. These things are great, but they cannot substitute Bible reading and prayer. Loving God with our mind must come before any emotional feeling or experience.

Let the Word transform your thinking and your actions. This is the picture of loving God, hearing His Word, and obeying it. Hear O Israel, and hear O Church.

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