Monday, November 5, 2018

All That Is Within Me

Three times in Deuteronomy, I read these (or similar) words: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And then at the very beginning of Psalm 103, I read this:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
✙ Ps 103:1 
Whether I'm thinking about loving God or blessing God, the scriptures demand that I not do it halfway. Regardless of how big my heart and soul are, or how much strength I've got, I'm to devote all of it to loving and serving God.

The New Testament, too, reminds me how important it is to give myself to God. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he quoted not one of the Ten Commandments, but the one from Deuteronomy (above). But he didn't stop there but said there was another one like it—namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39).

The reason I feel that it's inappropriate to relate this bit of Matthew back to Psalm 103 is the verb used. When translated into the Greek, the word for loving God is, naturally, ἀγαπάω (from agapē), which is specifically divine love. And when he adds the second commandment about loving your neighbor, Jesus does not use φιλεω (from philia, referring to love for friends), but once again ἀγαπάω.  And so when the Psalm calls on me to bless God with everything I've got, Jesus might add that I should pray the same blessings upon my neighbors that I would pray for myself—not because they are my friends (because they may not be), but because they are created in the Image of God.

Give me grace to love you, Lord—not with just the part of me that it's convenient to spare, but with everything I've got. And at the same time, remind me at all times to pray the same blessings upon my neighbor as I might pray for for myself. I pray in the Name of the One who taught me my priorities even as he taught me to pray...