January 08, 2008

Loving God First

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart ..."
Deuteronomy 6:5


Babies are selfish for the practical reasons of survival and comfort. So they cry until they're fed or diapered. In time they learn to put away the "me first" attitude. That wisdom is seldom gained without pain.

From beginning to end, the Bible is relentlessly clear about one thing: God comes first. That's good because without God there wouldn't be anything. Not you or your neighbor. No trees or cute puppies. Without God you can't have the good life. It's necessary to love God and be loyal to him above anyone or anything else.

But putting God first also goes against popular opinion: "Take care of yourself first," say some therapists; "work on your self-esteem." If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will-right?

It gets even tougher. To love God first means to love him with everything you have, every day. God first in your thinking, walking, talking, driving, relating to others-all you do and say. God's claims are relentless. They keep coming, pushing you to surrender to him.

Jesus Christ taught that a seed must first die before it can grow. So we must die to the "me first" attitude that is part of our human inheritance. Like babies, we must learn again and again that there are others in our world who also have needs. And above all, there is an Other who demands our complete allegiance.

Help us, Lord, to love you above all so that every part of our life is claimed by you. Help us also to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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