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Love him only, and fully

“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. 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 6:4–9

My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter entered the “why” phase a few months ago. The first time she asked “why” in response to something I said, my wife and I exchanged a knowing glance that implied, “Uh oh. We’re in for it now.” And since then I continue to be amazed at how inquisitive she is about everything around her. She wants to know why apples grow on trees, why our dog is barking, why her little brother is crying, why things are called what they’re called.

What that’s taught me is that everything we do—whether walking to our local P-patch community garden, going to the grocery store, riding in the car to preschool—is an opportunity for me to instruct, and her to learn.

In this passage from Deuteronomy 6, Moses is conveying a similar sentiment. He’s pointing out that all of life is an opportunity to rehearse the truths of Scripture (“these words that I command you”). This begins first and foremost with the fact that “the Lord is one” (v. 4). More than a theological statement about monotheism, this is a statement about God’s exclusivity—his requirement that we have no other gods beside him.

With that exclusivity comes an expectation of total devotion to God—all of who we are, including our heart, soul, and might. But our tendency toward forgetfulness necessitates that we rehearse these truths at every opportunity, and create reminders for ourselves at every turn.

This is one of the reasons the early church chose the cross as a symbol of their faith. It served as a reminder that Jesus perfectly loved God the Father with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might on our behalf (v. 5). When looking at the cross, we not only see a reminder to love the Lord our God, but how the Lord our God first loved us through his Son and our Savior, Jesus.

Cliff Ellis is the pastor of biblical living at the West Seattle church

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