Today’s post is an excerpt from IFWE’s newest reading plan on YouVersion’s Bible App, Wholehearted: Living Life by the Greatest Commandment.
Deep within us is a desire to live an integrated life, especially when it comes to our faith. In fact, the “greatest commandment” in Scripture (Deut. 6:4-5) exhorts Christians to live this way, loving God with our whole being – heart, soul, and strength. In this five-day plan, you will learn more about this “greatest commandment” and how to live it out. Ultimately, loving God not only impacts your inner life but also extends to your external life, including your work and wealth.
Love for God Starts by Considering God’s Character
What is the center of your life?
We all know from Sunday school that Jesus is supposed to be the center of our lives, but, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s so easy to lose focus and place other things, even good things, at the center: family, career, success. One of our biggest challenges is to keep ourselves from making our personal wealth paramount. Wealth is a gift, if obtained justly, but how do we keep it from supplanting the place Jesus is supposed to take in our lives?
Thankfully, Jesus, our true center, gave us some guidelines when he gave us the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:37-40. His words here echo Deuteronomy 6:4-5, a passage known as the Shema.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is known as the Shema because that is the first word of the passage, hear, in Hebrew. We find two aspects of God’s character at the beginning of the Shema. First, we see God’s covenantal relationship with Israel. The Israelites do not own or control God, but they are bound to him through a covenant relationship. He is the Lord of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the Lord of their deliverance from Egypt, the Lord of their nomadic wandering, and the Lord of their future conquests of the Land.
Second, we see that “the Lord is one.” He is not a local, regional deity like those worshiped by other people in the area (see Baal of Peor, Num. 25:3, 5; Deut. 4:3; Ps. 106:28), but the one true, omnipotent God. His singularity stands in stark contrast with both the plurality and limitation of the false deities.
God’s singular and covenantal character calls us to a love that is similarly singular and covenantal. As we move through the Shema, we discover that this divine affection recruits every aspect of our lives – all of our heart, self, and strength.
In seeing that God is the one, true, covenantal God, we should be drawn in to learn more about him. After all, this is the God who loved us first (I John 4:19). He is the God who sacrificed greatly in order to have us with him.
Who is this God?
Digging in further, we see that God is worthy of our love. He defines the very concept of love (1 John 4:8). Our love for God is grounded in God’s character: his sovereignty, his goodness, his generosity, his patience. The God of the Old Testament is the God who came to us in Christ and whose Holy Spirit lives in us today. The covenantal God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is worthy of our love and affection.
God proves himself time and again. He is faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to him. Let’s be inspired to love God for who he is – glorious and worthy, faithful and gracious. So we should listen for (hear) and follow his voice.
Do you find yourself being drawn to learn more about God? How do you see his character revealed throughout Scripture?