WORD STUDY – LOVE THE LORD
Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
John 21:15: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”
I have spent the last ten years of my life searching for the Heart of God. What started me on this journey was Deuteronomy 6:5 and John 21:15. I spent ten years in Bible schools and Seminaries studying to be a minister, studying to serve God. I took courses in preaching, in theology, in Biblical languages, in church history, in missions and on and on. I learned how to minister, how to build a church, how to preach – in a word, how to serve God or how to “Feed His sheep.” Yet, there was one course I never took, because it was never offered. It was a course in how to love God. Bible Colleges and Seminaries just take it for granted that you love God. Even in our admissions interview I was never asked if I loved God. I was asked if I was saved, but being saved does not automatically mean you love God.
Yet before Jesus ever asked Peter to feed His sheep, His first question to Peter was: “Lovest thou me?” Jesus was saying: “If you don’t love me, then don’t feed my sheep, I don’t want you feeding my sheep unless you really love me.”
In the Greek Jesus used the word agape which in an unconditional love, the highest form of love but Peter had to answer that he only phileo felt a brotherly love, a lessor love, but still Jesus said: “Feed my sheep.” Jesus understood that love grows and even after three years of following Jesus, there was still more growth to take place in his love for God.
Deuteronomy 6:5 : “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” is one of the most sacred verses in Judaism. Every orthodox Jew recites this verse every morning, afternoon, and evening. When confronted with a difficulty they recite this verse, when going to battle, they march into battle reciting this verse. They believe in the recitation of this verse that it draws them into the heart of God because they will grow in their love for God. Just as it is necessary for a husband and wife to remind each other every day that they love each other, so too must we tell God every day that we love Him. Not that He needs to hear it but because we need to proclaim it. If we do not proclaim our love for Him every day, just like in any relationship, that love will grow cold.
It is true that like any relationship we might start using those words: “I love you” like saying hi or goodbye. They lose their meaning. That won’t work, we need to say it every day from our hearts, not our lips. If a man and woman can tell each other every day: “I love you” and speak it from their hearts, that love will never grow cold. Some days it may be like Peter saying phileo, a lessor love but it is still love and there are moments when they small fire of passion, that little glowing ember can turn into a flame again. Love takes work on a human level as it does with God. That is way every orthodox Jew recites those words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…” three times a day. That is why they wear their skull cap and their tilit. Love has to be nurtured and cared for or it will die out and once that little ember loses it glow, it is very difficult to relit it and turn it into a flame.
Curious that the word for love in Deuteronomy 6:5 is ‘ahav and not racham. ‘Ahav is a lessor love than racham but it is still love. Again, love is something you work at and cause it to grow. We begin with ‘ahav but after many years of walking with God, going through trials and difficulties, having that love tested we will grow to love Him with all our hearts, soul and might. We will racham God.
“With all your heart” is Be-khol levavkha, Abraham discovered God in his heart and believed with all of his heart. The word heart in Hebrew is lev and has come into the English language in our word love. The very last word in Torah is Israel and the last letter of Israel is Lamed. The first letter of Torah (in beginnings) start with a Beth and put the two together what do you have the word Lev which means heart. The sages teach that with Torah we find the Love of God as well as the love of our fellow man. But, soft, you notice the word for love begins with the last word and ends with the first word. Why? So teach the sages: “Love for God can only be created after we have studied the Torah and allowed it to complete love in us.” Love for God comes through the study of His Word.
“With all your soul” is be-khol nafshekha in Hebrew. Isaac, the second patriarch, was prepared to give up his life on the altar of sacrifice.” Love means a willingness to make your life a sacrifice to God.
“With all your might” is u-ve-khol meodekha in Hebrew. The word in the Hebrew for might is meod. Meod according to the sages should be translated as wealth or all that you have of any value. Remember how God prospered Jacob, the third patriarch multiplying his sheep over that of his Father in Law, Laban. Jacob made a vow to God (Genesis 28:22): “… and of all that thou shall give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” Love means committing all you have of value to God.
1 Corthinians 13:13 – 14:1 “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these [is] love. (14:1) Follow after love and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.”
Too many Christians today seek the spiritual gifts of prophesy, healing, teaching etc., but neglect to nourish the gift that comes before all and that is love, to love God with all your heart, soul and might. Love is not easy, love will be tested, love will require sacrifice of all you value. Only then are you able to serve God.