Today we are going to look at what it means to love the Lord with all your heart. I think many of us have wanted at some point it time to love the Lord with most of our hearts, or some of our hearts, or perhaps half of our hearts. When you go into a Somali restaurant you can often order something called “half and half”; meaning half rice and half meat – it’s called a “half and half”. But the Lord does not have a “half and half” on His menu when it comes it comes to your heart. It’s all or nothing.
God says it this way in the Bible: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.”
This happens to be the Bible verse that Somali Christian Ministries has as its motto: because it shows that we are to Love God with everything we have; and we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
I remember talking with a Somali woman about his verse and we read it together. Here she was in her hijab, a young lady going to high school, and I saw her in the hallway of a night school class where my daughter was playing soccer in the gym of that school. So I talked with this young Somali lady and showed her the SCM business card that had this verse written on it and we went through it together.
She completely agreed with the beginning of the verse that said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’;”…. She said that yes she could do that easily and very well.
Then I read the last part of the verse: “and love your neighbour as yourself.”
No, she couldn’t that she said, she could only love muslims.
Now this young lady is perhaps not the representative for the entire Somali people, but she is who she is. I tried to explain to her that God is instructing us to love all people, all humanity, to serve and care for everyone – that’s the whole point of the verse. But she could not accept that.
How about us?
When God says that He wants us to love our neighbours as ourselves and to love God with all our hearts – He means all our hearts. God is not going to accept those into His Kingdom who have divided hearts – meaning – one half for God, the other half for me.
“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honour you.”
“And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart…”
“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
I want a pure heart to worship and serve the Lord; and that is God at work in me. He is the one who give us this singleness of heart to serve Him and know more about Him; where knowing God and serving Him becomes the most wonderful and blessed thing that we can do.
So why do we get so sad?
Here’s a little secret revealed to if you are not aware of it; a small mystery explained: many times when we are faced with sadness and despair God is at work removing something from our lives. Like when you get a sliver removed from your hand; or a tooth removed; it’s painful while it’s happening but afterwards when it has been removed, and the pain is gone, you feel so much better.
Paul says it this way: “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”
Basically God is saying that when he prunes us, when He is removing something from our lives, it is dying on the cross and it’s painful. But once it has been removed we enjoy this wonderful new experience of living a much more godly and peaceful life. God says: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.”
He goes on to say: “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.
So pick yourself up and carry on; keep seeking God and allowing Him to purify your heart and your ways to serve Him and others.