By Pastor Mark Jordan
“And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:16, MSG)
Today’s verse is one of those I have read multiple times, yet when I saw it today, it caused me to pause, cock my head, and think. For starters, it was all about a commandment to love. I don’t know about you, but I really can’t be commanded to love anything. No matter how much anyone were to insist, you can’t command me to love eating shrimp; sure that has a lot to do with my shellfish allergy, but all the more reason.
If the verse were to end there, it might be easy to just gloss over it, but it does not. Moses went on to command walking in God’s ways and His commandments, all of which begin with love (love God with all your heart, soul, and strength — from The Shema.) Walking in God’s ways then leads an exuberantly life blessed by God. Exuberantly blessed? I like the sound of that!
Have you ever heard the old saying that attitude follows behavior? I think this is essentially to what Moses was alluding. Consider it functioning cyclically: love God, walk in His ways, and see the blessings of God, which develops a deepening love for God, furthering your desire to walk in God’s ways, and experiencing even more of God’s exuberant blessings! It works much like a screw drilling into wood. The more the cycles continues, the deeper it drives, and the tighter it holds.
And such it is with love. Yes, at first it might be hard to think about commanding one to love, but that’s just the first step of a three-level platform. Love God, walk in His ways, and experience the blessing, which will deepen your love for God, enabling you to experience more of God’s blessings, and causing the love to grow. This isn’t forcing something onto you that your heart, mind, soul, and body will reject (like me with shrimp), but show you how you were designed to live in the first place. This is how you can live into the cycle of love.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for showing me this cycle of love. I confess there is a part of me that revolts at the idea of being forced to do something that I might not want to do, but I definitely want to live a blessed life. Forgive me, and help me to live in your ways, because I know that when I do, I’ll experience a love I never could fathom. I ask this in Jesus’ name, the embodiment of love. Amen.