The greatest of all God’s commandments was written down by Moses and reiterated by Jesus, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV also Luke 10:27, Matthew 23:37, Mark 12:30-31).
By doing a little linguistic algebra, this Biblical law is not only a commandment but also a test. By looking at what we love with all our heart, soul and strength – in other words what we devote ourselves to – is a sure revealer of who or what we serve.
Let’s begin by looking at who God is and what He is, to us:
YHWH-Yireh (Genesis 22:13-14) means, the Lord will provide. Do we believe that God is our provider or are we constantly living in fear of insufficiency or looking to family members, friends, employers, government or churches to meet our needs?
Thank God for loving communities that help in times of crisis. It is one of the ways God provides, and charity allows us all to share His wonderful blessings with others as we bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). At the same time, God never intended us to become dependent on these sources.
Scripture teaches that we should work and share our gifts with others in exchange for our own provision. (2 Thessalonians 3:10, Luke 10:7, 1 Timothy 5:18). He also wants us to know that He alone is our ultimate provider and, if required, He will send manna and quail from Heaven (Exodus 16,) have ravens feed us (1 Kings 17:2-16,) or devise some other elaborate Kingdom plan to take care of us. What He will never do, is leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 37:35, Hebrews 13:5).
Every great person in the Bible experienced great tests of their faith to see if they would trust God to provide for their every need (Philippians 4:19). These tests are prerequisites for greater authority and responsibility in God’s Kingdom.
Praise God for many wonderful physicians, nurses and other health care workers. Advancements in healthcare has been a remarkable blessing all over the world. I’m sure the Apostle Luke would utterly marvel at how far medicine has progressed since his days as a physician two millennia ago.
Still, I feel certain that none of this would have stopped him from praying for the sick and seeking out the Divine Healer. In the early days of Israel, God said He is, “YHWH-Rapha” (Exodus 15:26) – The Lord that heals. Many years later, Isaiah the Prophet foretold of a coming Messiah by whose wounds we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5). One of the most public aspects of Jesus’ ministry on the earth was healing. The blind, deaf, lame, possessed, disturbed, infirmed, and even the dead, were transformed to the image of health at His command.
Hospitals are amazing blessings, but if we are fully invested in God, perhaps our first stop should be the throne room to see if earthly medicine is His plan, or if He has something more supernatural in mind.
Human beings have always gravitated toward ideas and causes, but we must be careful to ask ourselves, “Where do our greatest passions lie – i.e. what do we love with our heart, soul and strength?” What are we really willing to fight for? What are we willing to divide over? What are we willing to die for?
When a long-time friendship built upon mutual admiration and respect was challenged by pride, careless words, and harsh offenses, Wilbur Wright – co-inventor of the Airplane – wrote to his adversary on behalf of himself and his brother Orville, “My brother and I do not form many intimate friendships, and do not lightly give them up.” May we all work so hard to settle our disagreements?
Unfortunately we live in a time of intense cultural warfare. It seems that everyone has a label they are willing to fight and lose relationships over. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, LGBT, Black Lives Matter, Trumper, Never-Trumper, Socialist, Environmentalist, and the list goes on.
Many Christians forget that while we are in this world, we are not of this world (John 15:9; 17:16, 1 Peter 2:11-12, 1 John 2:15-17). Exodus 17:8-15 is a powerful reminder that God is called, YHWH-Niss”i – The Lord is our banner. He is the highest and most important label we carry. To truly be His disciples, every other mark of identification must bow to Him. Our only legitimate fights are the ones He is engaged in.
Where do we find our peace and rest? God is called YHWH-Shalom (Judges 6:24) – The Lord our Peace. When we are stressed, restless, or uneasy where do we seek comfort? Do we look for a bottle? Do we call a friend or start unproductively surfing the web? Do we binge on entertainment?
The Bible is clear, the Lord is our Peace. To truly find the peace and wellness that we seek, we need to seek Him. By seeking Him first, we show that He is truly the focus of our heart, soul and strength.
Where do we go first for guidance? Do we seek out our friends, a counselor, or an expert? The Bible tells us that a wise man has many counselors (Proverbs 15:22; 11:14; 24:6,) so there is nothing wrong with seeking out any of these people. The problem comes when we go to them first. Doing so may reveal that our greatest trust is not in YHWH-Ra-ah – The Lord my Shepherd.
God is the only one who can lead us where we need to go. At the end of life’s journey, He is the only one who will travel with us, so we might as well get comfortable following Him now.
Although we have already discussed provision, we should not only consider what we need to live, but also what we give.
Jesus taught that our money follows our heart. (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34). If you want to know who or what someone serves, just look at their bank statement. Apostle Ron Carpenter Jr. once said that some people have $10 for coffee, but nothing to put in the offering. We may not like to admit it, but if we always find money for stuff we want or things we like to do, but never sow financially into the Kingdom of God, we are not loving God with all our heart, soul and strength.
Though the English translation is often “Love the Lord thy God…” a more accurate read would be, “love YHWH.” This rendering takes away the idea that we can worship any god we want. There is only one that fits the demands of scripture. His Name is YHWH. The God of the Jews and by adoption, Christians.
There has never been a better time to stop and evaluate our life (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure it lines up with God’s Word. If it doesn’t, it may be possible that we are not serving the real God at all, but instead some idol. No, not one fashioned from materials of wood, stone, gold, etc., but instead a virtual one constructed from the neurons and synapses of our brains – crafted by imaginations that are far-flung fictional accounts of the God of the Bible.
Who Do You Serve – Really?