“Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad.
V-ahavta et Adonai Elohecha b-chol l’vavcha u-v-chol naf’sh’cha u-v-chol m’odecha.”
“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” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, NIV).
The Shema (translated “hear” in Hebrew) is the main prayer for Jews. It is often said twice a day — when you wake up and when you go to bed. It is the staple of Jewish thought and practice.
The Shema is repeated by Jesus in the New Testament:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV)
Notice that Jesus says that all of Scripture depends on these two commandments. We are to interpret God’s Word through the imperatives to love God and our neighbor.
I have only recently realized the actual implications of these commands. It has begun to affect the way I think and act. When I am brushing my teeth or talking to my friends or watching TV, I am to remember to love God and my neighbor above all things.
When I am thinking about modesty, I believe it should be less about how many inches long my skirt is and more about how I can thoughtfully love my neighbor through what I choose to wear.
When I go to work and sit down to write an article, I should be contemplating how can I best love God with my mind — through the words I type and the message I convey.
These two commands encompass everything we come across in life. I may be sounding repetitive here, but I think this is pretty profound. These commands are so simple, and yet infinitely complex.
The interpretation of these two commands will take a lifetime (or perhaps more!) to implement in a way that is fully pleasing to God. But let us expend all of our energy trying to reach this goal. Let us hear the truth in these words and then spend each and every day doing our best to act them out.
Copyright 2006 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.