One of the most important things God wants you to know is the first and greatest commandment.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
When you read these words it is emphasising the total involvement of the heart of each man or woman. Our love for God must, like our love of the fellow believers, be without you hiding or concealing some of your feelings or thoughts. It needs to be 100% of ourselves. David makes it clear what we need to do:
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. (Psalm 9:1)
The heart that is pleasing to God is full of praise of thanksgiving. This is a vital part of our life. However, God is a jealous God, and he will not accept a heart that divides its praise, giving part to Him but the rest to gods of wood, stone or riches. God wants our whole heart.
What do we praise God for?
Our praise should be based around the amazing works that God has performed. Looking back over the history recorded in the Bible God has done many things which should be remembered by us – the Exodus of God’s people from Egypt, the conquest of the land, the preservation of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). There are many other things in Israel’s history which show the love and mercy of God. Then there are the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles; the resurrection and glorification of Christ. We can also praise God as we see the fulfilling of prophecy right now as we live our lives!
There are many things to praise God for. We praise him for this wonderful world we live in with its beauty and life giving resources.
How do we offer praise?
In order for us to give meaningful praise, we need to be familiar with God’s word – the Bible. King David taught the people of Israel to remember their history in song. These are some of the words of praise in David’s song of thanks in 1 Chronicles chapter 16:
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! (verse 9)
Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, (verse 12)
Who should be told of God’s works?
This knowledge of the amazing works of God needs to be passed down from generation to generation. The children need to be told and as they grow older they need to tell their children. This is what is recorded in Psalm 78:
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (verse 4)
…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; (verses 6-7)
The law of love
We are to love not only our God but also our fellow neighbour. Loving our neighbour means loving anybody we come across; and that this love is to express itself in our attitude to his needs.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37-39)
The law of love is found throughout the Bible and is the foundation of the gospel message and also of the believer’s life. There is no hope if we do not have love. God has shown his love through grace and we can see that reflected in his forgiveness, patience, mercy, gentleness and kindness.
The apostle writes beautiful words about what exactly is love:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Unfortunately, many people find it difficult to give full commitment to the law of love. They seem to think that it is too much to ask to have total commitment to loving God and others. However, if we accept God’s great mercy and love, then we will naturally want to show mercy and love to others.
Love is not an optional thing in our life. It is commanded and essential to living a life as a Christian. It is not an emotion that we can’t control but rather it is a choice. Love is not a feeling we have, it is shown through our actions.
In order to “see God”, a person must be pure in heart. In other words, have complete and unreserved devotion to God.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
In order for someone to “see God”, they need to know Him and become like Him. They need to take on His characteristics in their own life. To have a character like God, a person needs to be faithful and humble and forgive from the heart (Matt. 18:35). Only a heart in tune with its creator, will meet these requirements. The apostle Paul commends this whole-hearted love of the Lord God combined with a sincere attempt to reflect the glory of His character:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:17)
The motivation for this obedience comes from the operation of the Word of God on the inmost being of a man. This needs to be combined with the desire that the Lord Jesus have full sway in every aspect of life. This is what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father….that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…(Ephesians 3:16-17)
The heart is that inner self through which we experience and savour life and which is the basis of all our beliefs and the motivation of all our actions. The heart is the place where the words of the Bible can have its home. If such a condition of the heart applies then we can share Jeremiah’s joy:
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. (Jer.15:16)
This is what it means to …”love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”.