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Hear, O Israel, Deuteronomy 6:4-15

I am good at loving God with all my heart. I am good at loving God with all my soul. I am good at loving God with all my might. I am terrible at loving God with my heart, soul, and might all at the same time! Or for more than 12 seconds.

It seems that loving God whole-heartedly is a practiced skill. If we aren’t intentional about nurturing our love for God, it is easy for our time and attention to slip slowly (or quickly) away. The only way I truly honor God with all my heart, soul, and might is by engaging in practices that nurture and exercise my heart. I remember that love is active. I love others as unconditionally as I am able. My husband and I have welcomed a lot of struggling kids that hang out at our house. We think many of these kids have been ostracized and even kicked out of their own homes because there were conditions on the love they received. So we have made a decision to love them unconditionally. That doesn’t mean we don’t set boundaries. We have rules. They are always invited to eat with us. But they must sit at the table with us, and there are no phones allowed at the table. We usually eat with anywhere from 5-20, and we find ourselves laughing nearly every meal! But unconditional acceptance is challenging sometimes. We never have any clean dishes or silverware. We have very little privacy. Sometimes stuff goes missing. But we are so blessed by these kids! And we have absolutely found that loving them unconditionally lives in the same space as loving God unconditionally. Since love is active, I don’t think God wants us just to sit idle feeling warm and fuzzy toward God. Loving God means loving others actively. Even when loving is tough. 

Text:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you, because the Lord your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the Lord your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.