The Bible was written in a land and time very different from ours. Its language not our own.
Though the fundamentals of God’s truth are gleaned from our English translation, many nuances are lost in the transition from one culture to another. Meaning is lost in semantics.
The essence is there. The English Bible holds the true gospel message, but life lies under the black and white print. So, today as I continue to teach about the ancient tradition of the Shema (Sh-mA), we will do some treasure hunting to find the life waiting for us in this familiar passage–three Scripture texts given to the Israelites to remember God’s law. Jewish families have recited the Shema morning and night for thousands of years. (Click here if you missed the introductory article about the Shema last week.)
The first part:
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord alone. 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 upon 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 6:4-9, NIV)
Last week we discussed the meaning of “God alone”. There shall be no other God before YWHW. How do we keep Him the God of our lives? How do keep the sneaky idolatry of today from infiltrating our hearts?
“Love the Lord with all your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 a)
The ancient language holds the secret.
The word “heart” is really the Hebrew word, lebab. Here is its definition:
- Lebab: “heart, the mind, the inner person; the place where the rational, thinking process works.” (Key Word)
How differently does this command sound if it states, “Love the Lord your God with your mind.”? Or what if we translated it, “Love the Lord your God with every thought.“?
I recently talked with a dear friend distraught by her atheist son’s debates about Christianity. He and his friends slandered the intelligence of Believers over and over. Faith of any kind is ignorance in their minds. Their rational, thinking process, their lebab does not recognize God. They believe they are too “smart” for such faith.
“Love the Lord your God with all your rational thinking and every thought…love the Lord with all your brain.”
That may require a brain transplant.
I believe this is part of the renewal of our minds that Paul speaks of.
Our thoughts play a crucial role in our worship of God. Our way of thinking changes as we fall in love with Him.
I’ve seen this happen with my marriage. Mike and I have started thinking like one another. We call it “the great transformation”, but I think really it’s the great love story.
My husband and I are complete opposites, or we were when we got married. We did things very differently. But after twenty-five years of living with this man, I’ve begun to do things like he does, and he is catching himself reacting in Andy Lee style. We think more like each other now. It’s a little freaky. But it’s also GREAT!
Honestly, I don’t know if the daily living together for two decades plus five years and three children has done it or the fact that I’ve grown to appreciate the way he thinks and he values my way. I think I’ve changed because I love him.
So…if love is the catalyst along with years and years of doing life together, I believe that same precept can be placed on our relationship with God and the command to love Him with all of our thinking.
Three ingredients make this possible:
- Prayer: Dialogue with God all day. Pray to love the Lord more and to find security in His love for you. Listen to Him.
- Bible Study: Read the Bible throughout the day to know how God thinks.
- Holy Spirit: The Spirit makes all this possible (more on that at a later time.)
“Hear O friends, the Lord our God, the Lord alone. Not money or children, health or success, relationships or new shoes can be your God. Love the Lord your God with all your mind, with every thought, and soul, and strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your minds. Impress them on your children and grandchildren. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you drive to Walmart, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Andy’s updated version)
“Oh, Lord, help us love you with every thought! Amen.”
We’ll continue our study of the Shema next week and learn what it means to love the Lord with all of our soul.
Leave a Comment: What helps you love God with every thought?
Jesus loves you,