LOVE IS ALL GOD REALLY WANTS

LOVE IS ALL GOD REALLY WANTS

Today I’d like to do a little experiment. Tell me what jumps out at you when you read this verse.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Raise your hands, those of you who see ‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’? That’s all you see, right? You gloss right over that which you are supposed to do and you only see the condition, ‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’. And how does that make you feel?

This verse leaves many Christians shaking in their boots because let’s be honest. I don’t care just what it is that you are asking, no one can ever do anything ‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’, right?

To make matters worse, this is God we are talking about. Anything that He asks for will be akin to a king sending a knight on a quest; one that is fraught with peril, one that seeks a rare and unattainable treasure, a quest from which there could be no return. So whatever it is that God requires us to do ‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’, it’s got to be impossible.

And that is the tragedy of our human condition. We don’t pay enough attention to the things that really matter and jump to conclusions before the day is through. So today, I’d like us to focus on that which we are called to do, that which is most important in this verse, and see just how doing that will change the way we view the relationship that we have with our heavenly Father; so let’s focus on love.

“You shall love the Lord your God…” Deuteronomy 6:5

In any English translation of this verse, there is only one word used, love. So let us first get the fundamentals right. God wants us to love Him. Not fear Him, not be afraid of Him, not revere Him, not respect Him, not be in awe of Him; though all that we should be to some degree. But the thing which God wants us to do ‘with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’ is love Him.

Now, because of this constant in all translations, it makes studying this verse both difficult and easy at the same time. Because you see, without the benefit of English amplification, we need to go back to the language in which this book was written, i.e. Hebrew. But that also means that once we understand it in Hebrew, we can then be sure that that definition is the definitive. So which word in Hebrew is used for ‘love’?

Ahavah

This word is like the mother of all words for love. If in Greek there’s Philia, Storge, Eros and Agape; then in Hebrew Ahavah encapsulates them all. It can be used to represent the love between a husband and wife. It can be used to represent deep care and concern. It can be used to describe the love between parent and child. It can mean ‘love’, and it can also mean ‘like’. It can be used literally, and it can even be used to discuss love conceptually. It is even used in this context.

“If anyone says I have ahavah for Hashem and the Ach b’Moshiach he hates, he is a shakran (liar). For the one not having ahavah for the Ach b’Moshiach of him whom he has seen, how can he have ahavah for the Elohim whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20 [OJB]

Or simply put,

“If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20

So why did God use such a ‘vague’ word for love? Here’s a simple illustration.

For those of you who are in a relationship, when you started dating, did you always manage to do the things your partner appreciates? Were your actions always interpreted as acts of love? It took a while, didn’t it? You had to understand each other’s ‘love language’ before both your actions started to have any impact on the relationship, true?

For those of you who have children, when you compare your parenting style with your peers, do you love your children the same way? Do you love each sibling the same way? You don’t, do you? Each and every family, each and every child interprets’ love differently, wants to be loved differently, responds to love differently. So imagine how things would be like with God?

Putting it simply, there are nearly 7 billion people walking this planet today. That means that there are conceivably 7 billion different ways that God is loved. Imagine if one day God dictates how He wants to be loved. What would that do to the 7 billion people on this planet? Don’t get me wrong, He could very well do that. He is God after all. But how many of us will truly understand just what God really wants? Indeed, how many of us, till today, really understand how our spouses and children want to be loved? And even if we could understand God perfectly, won’t some of us be left feeling like, ‘But that’s not how I personally show love’.

So by using the word ‘Ahavah’, God is essentially say, ‘Hey, it’s alright, love me on your terms, in ways that you understand.’ It’s really not so much a demand as it is a concession.

So love to you means reciprocal care? That’s alright, love God and ask of Him too. Jesus has shown us that that’s actually what He wants you to do too; for He did say,

“And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.
[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I Am].” John 14:13-14 [AMP]

But you know what? The beauty of this commandment really comes when we take into context how it was delivered.

You see, just before this, Israel was given the Ten Commandments. Now, we think of the Ten Commandments as the non-negotiable rules list from God, don’t we? Break one, break all; and be condemned for an eternity.

But keeping the law was not really God’s intention; because after God gave the people the Ten Commandments, the heads of the tribes approached Moses and said,

“Our God has revealed to us his glory and greatness. We’ve heard him speak from the fire today! We’ve seen that God can speak to humans and they can still live. But why risk it further? This huge fire will devour us if we stay around any longer. If we hear God’s voice anymore, we’ll die for sure. Has anyone ever known of anyone who has heard the Voice of God the way we have and lived to tell the story?
From now on, you go and listen to what God, our God, says and then tell us what God tells you. We’ll listen and we’ll do it.” Deuteronomy 5:24-27

Notice the irony is what they were saying? Compare

“Our God has revealed to us his glory and greatness. We’ve heard him speak from the fire today! We’ve seen that God can speak to humans and they can still live.”

With

“But why risk it further? This huge fire will devour us if we stay around any longer. If we hear God’s voice anymore, we’ll die for sure. Has anyone ever known of anyone who has heard the Voice of God the way we have and lived to tell the story?”

If God can speak to humans and they can still live, why are they still afraid that they would die? Do they think that God is a fickle child? Blessing them one moment and then smiting them the next? Do we?

Then notice what that wrong thinking made them do.

“From now on, you go and listen to what God, our God, says and then tell us what God tells you. We’ll listen and we’ll do it.”

God was drawing near to them, but they were distancing themselves from God. And this was how it made God feel.

“Then the Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” Deuteronomy 5:28-29

Their mouths spoke well. Their words showed reverence and fear. But that was not a result of what was truly in their hearts. While they may have mouthed the right things, while they may have done the right things, what really mattered to God was the reason that made them do it, what really mattered to God was what they felt in their hearts. For we remember that He also tells us in Proverbs,

“My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.” Proverbs 3:1-2

So that is why, after God has sent the people back to their tents, He told Moses to give them THE commandment, the big one, the one that really matters, and here it is.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

This commandment was to be even greater than the rest that came before because

“…these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And what are those words?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

You see beloved, God doesn’t want mere actions from us. He doesn’t care for words either. What He wants is for whatever it is that we do to come from the heart; for our expressions of love to come from the heart. Don’t do it just because you think it is an obligation. Don’t do it because you see others do it. Don’t even do it out of fear. Do it only out of love.

Our Father doesn’t dictate the terms on which you love Him either. For from the wide range of love that is Ahavah, He allows you to decide. Isn’t that generous?

Beloved, remember. All our Father really wants is love. So go ahead and love Him, because the reason why we can love is simple;

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 [AMP]

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