Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Verse 5 (NIV)
If you are the least bit unfamiliar with the Old Testament (OT), you would think this verse came out of the New Testament (NT). This sounds like Jesus’ teaching, not an OT history lesson. That of course is because the God of the OT is also the God of the NT. Jesus teaching is consistent with the Old and the New Testaments.
From beginning to end, the Bible is relentlessly clear about one thing: God comes first. That’s good, because without God there wouldn’t be anything. Not you or your neighbour. No wildlife, no relationships, nothing. Without God you can’t have the good life. It’s necessary to love God and be loyal to him above anyone or anything else.
But putting God first also goes against popular opinion: “Look out for number one,” say some – even therapists; “work on your self-esteem, build yourself up.” If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will – right?
It gets even tougher. To love God first means to love him with all you have, every day. God first in your thinking, walking, talking, driving, relating to others – all you do and say. It even means putting God first in your work life. God’s claims are constant. They keep coming, pushing you to surrender everything to him. Surrender is the pathway to life.
Jesus Christ taught that a seed must first die before it can grow. So, we must die to the “me first” attitude that is part of our human inheritance. Like babies, we must learn again and again that there are others in our world who also have needs. And above all, there is One who demands our complete allegiance.
Help us, Lord, to love you above all, so that every part of our life is claimed by you. Help us also to love our neighbour as ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen