March 16

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6)

A few years after becoming a Christian I determined to let the people I love know that I love them by saying so. I wasn’t sure how some of my family members would react since we were not in the habit of being verbally affectionate. I was most impressed by the change in my relationship with my father; he returned my declarations of love with warm smiles and long hugs. Godly love transforms relationships in a way that is impossible for human love. God’s love converts an acrimonious parental relationship into one that is adoring and compassionate. God’s love transforms our entire beings to delight in him; agape love occupies our hearts, souls, and minds. Our new strength is God’s power working in us.

When we know Christ, who is the wisdom of God, the commands of the Lord are love-gifts from our heavenly Father. Instead of rules that burden and demand allegiance, God’s ordinances are reminders of how to show our love to him. We love the Lord by loving Jesus Christ with all our being; this is the greatest commandment and fulfilled by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Matthew 22:38). Isn’t it a great relief to know that Christ in us brings us to the fountain of God’s love with an undivided heart, soul, and mind? Wisdom does not strive and struggle against God’s commandments but embraces them as the way to draw nearer to the One we adore passionately. No wonder Jesus called this the highest commandment (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).

Religious Jewish families today continue to work hard at obeying God’s commands by legalistically following hundreds of rules, including Sabbath prayers and customs, the boy’s bris and bar mitzvah, as well as home life and funeral rituals. I grew up in a Reform Jewish family and was aware of just a few of these customs. But what a relief it is to know that the wisdom I want comes from God in the form of love, not impossible demands. When he writes his commands on my heart, I delight in them (Deuteronomy 6:6; 11:8).

Here are a few other related passages:

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30-31)

“Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law…” (Isaiah 51:7)

“The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Will you wisely seek God’s love with all your heart, soul, and mind? And will you love him in return, by Christ’s strength?

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