Updated: Jan 31, 2022
“I love you this much,” he said, with a big grin, his arms open as wide as his little shoulders could get them.
My oldest son said that often when he was two. And he said it to practically everyone. It always made me laugh. How could a two-year-old measure emotion?
For that matter, how can any of us measure emotion?
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Israel was weary. The last few years had been chaotic. This new generation had never known the stability of a home. And Moses was going over the myriad of rules God had given them, again!
These verses in Deuteronomy are the heart of the Ten Commandments, the essence of what God wants from His people. Love. He wants them to love Him with all of their heart and soul, with all of their might. These verses, also known as the “Shema,” represent the greatest commandment, exactly what God expects from the people He set apart. I love how The Message puts it; “He wants us to love Him with everything we’ve got.” Well, we can undoubtedly measure that.
Is there anything you are afraid to give over to God? Or maybe that you don’t think is worthy of giving over to God? Those things are probably idols, more important than God.
I can relate to both things. I have been struggling for months with giving God my sleep. It sounds weird, I know, but I connect sleep, or lack of sleep, to my clinical depression. Giving it to God means I don’t have control over it anymore. It also means I don’t trust Him with my biggest fear. That’s not loving Him with all I have.
I also have an extraordinary amount of journals and pens. I love both and have huge plans for them . . . someday. When I see one I want to buy, and there is a niggling of you don’t need that, I can easily dismiss it and think God doesn’t care about something as small as a pen. But when I avoid that whisper in my ear, I am disobedient; that’s not loving Him with my heart and soul, either.
When Jesus is tested by the Pharisees, (Matthew 22:37) asking Him about the greatest commandment, His answer comes from this passage in Deuteronomy. Jesus added “love your neighbor as yourself” as the second command too. (Leviticus 19:18)
This! This is how we are supposed to live every day! When we love God with everything we have, it becomes easy to love our neighbor as ourselves. Or even more than ourselves.
Jean Schmidt was a perfect example of living this. When a young, impaired high school student hit the car she and her husband were in, killing her husband, Jean forgave the young man. But she didn’t just forgive him. Jean petitioned the judge to keep him out of jail and do community service at their church. She did this from her hospital bed. Jean prayed for that young man and was proud of the man he became, a teacher who loves Jesus and wants to help other young people learn from his deadly mistake. Even in her pain and loss, Jean loved God with everything she had, which allowed her to love that young man as herself.
Love is not always the victory march we see in the movies. Sometimes it’s broken and it’s difficult and it comes from a place of obedience. That’s the ‘love Him with everything you’ve got’ kind of love He desires from us!
There is a scene in one of the final episodes of The Office that I always equate to how I want to love God. (I am aware of the irony of this.) Angela and Dwight are still struggling with all the chaos in their history together. Finally, Dwight decides he no longer cares and sets out after Angela to tell her he loves her. As they stand on the side of the noisy highway, He gets out his megaphone and shouts “I love you” at the top of his lungs. She puts her hands over her ears and whispers, “too loud.” That’s when Dwight declares, “That’s how loud I love you!”
Friends, I want to love God loud. I want to love Him with everything inside of me, leaving nothing from Him. I want to love Him so much that obedience comes as a sacrifice, pouring that love into others. That’s the only way to measure love I know.