Friday, October 23, 2009

Love the LORD Your God, Part 5

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you are and have" (Deut. 6: 5, my translation). Jesus interpreted the final words of this verse as "with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12: 30 NASB). The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 6: 5 could literally be rendered "muchness" or "all you have". The word is usually taken for "strength". Strength need not be limited, as we're prone to think, merely to physical prowess. What God calls for here is putting everything you've got into loving him--your worldly possessions, your physical body, your intellect. Quite literally, God wants everything from you. He wants it all at his disposal. The emotions and will were discussed under the heading of "heart", and the total person was discussed under the heading of "soul". What's left?

Jesus said we're to love God with our "minds" or our intellect. Your ability to think and reason should be at God's disposal. You are called to "think God's thoughts after him" as one theologian put it. You are called to the task of learning to do theology well. Everyone does theology. Some do it better than others, but even the atheist has a theology, although his is the most minimal. Whatever your field in life, whether you're a plumber or a physicist, you should put your mind at God's disposal to look for his glory in all the things you see, experience, and think about. Believers are not called to follow blindly. Christian faith is not a "leap in the dark." You are called to use your mind and think. Sanctified reason is both a blessing and a command for the believer. "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil 4: 8 ESV).

You are also called to love God with all you have. Everything you have, from your health to your wealth (be it little or much) is a gift from God, and you are his steward over it. He did not give it to you to squander on the trinkets of the world in what Bunyan called "Vanity Fair" (Pilgrim's Progress). Churches spend a lot of dollars building new, lavish facilities when they could be spending that same money launching a new church across town or sponsoring missionaries in a third world country. Christians buy the best and latest things even though what they have is just fine. The extra money they spend could be used to feed hungry children somewhere or support mission work. Think before you spend. Ask yourself, "Do I really need this, or is it a luxury?" "Is there some better use I could put this money to?" "Will God be glorified in this purchase?" Take a stand and love God with your thoughts and with your possessions. "Do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor 10: 31).

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