And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)
If you were to ask most Christians what the two greatest commandments are, perhaps most would be able to repeat a form of, “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor.” Or, to simplify, “Love God, Love People.” It’s actually quite remarkable how simple these concepts are. Jesus is a God of love after all. It makes sense that His followers should also be loving towards Him and towards others. However, most people would not be able to tell you that those two greatest commandments are not actually new commands from Jesus. Instead, they originate deep from the early Old Testament of the Bible.
Our verse today, which Jesus quotes, is found in the book of Deuteronomy, written thousands of years before Jesus was even born. It reads, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” In fact, this topic is the lead-in to a bunch of commands that God is about to deliver to the ancient Israelites which involve how to worship Him – and it’s a very long list. So, why was this the lead-in to a list of dos and don’ts? Because God knows that obedience is the key to a strong relationship.
God desires a relationship with everyone – an eternal relationship in fact. And, in relationships, there are rules to make sure the relationship stays strong. For example, spreading rumors about your best friend is a good way to lose that best friend. It undermines their trust and will eventually lead to the break-up of that friendship. If you yell and scream at your spouse, or physically hit them, the relationship will suffer and most likely end in divorce. You see, all of our relationships have rules to them. If we break those rules, the relationship suffers.
So, God is telling us that the rules, or commands, He is giving to us aren’t about showing us who is boss, or to ruin our fun. On the contrary. His commands are there to ensure our relationship with Him gets strong and stays strong. Therefore, we keep the commands not out of fear, but because we value the relationship. Loving the Lord means doing everything we can not to destroy our relationship with Him.
So, today, and every day, give thanks to God for His love. Then, follow His lead.