By Brother Brian Shimer

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Before this point of Matthew 22, Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. The Pharisees put forward a lawyer who asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

They thought, if Jesus named the greatest commandment, it meant omitting another. So, they could prove Him wrong!

But Jesus quoted the very heart of the law. He pulled a verse from the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which is still said daily by observant Jews. Every Jew present would have said it that very morning. Jesus’ choice to “Love God…” stopped debate. Everyone knew, there was no greater commandment. Take a peek at this for yourself:

Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.Deuteronomy 6:5-9 NIV

Moses said the commandments he gives them that day — many of which follow after the Shema— were to be on their hearts; memorized. He then listed many daily actions the people could take to keep the law before them morning to night.

What if loving God with all our strength began with the fact that this love is expressed in daily actions, like those Moses listed: memorizing, impressing, walking, talking, remembering; morning, noon, and night; in symbol, in aspects of dress, and around the home!

After working out, I take 20 minutes in the sauna with the other men and women pausing before the day. One day, I asked a brother what he thought it meant to love God with all his strength. I totally expected he might connect it to using his muscular strength, being in a gym and all. But this guy, who is built like an ox, said, “I think it is about my choices moment by moment. It is applying the strength of my decisions to put God first in this action or that.”

I loved what he said.

From what Moses wrote here, it is clear, to love God with all our strength is to actively choose God over everything else. What do we talk about as we walk along the road, sit at home, get up or go to bed? What fills our conversations and our thinking? It appears, the strength of choice might be to let God be part of all of this. This is not to keep a law, but to live into loving the God who gave Himself for us. 


Keep loving.