#7. Love God With All Your Might.
The first part of this commandment is to love God. Did you know it was a commandment? Did you know you have no choice? “But wait, how can love be commanded?” Ah, but do you know what “love” is? Let me tell you: Love is sacrifice.
When we love someone, we give up something for them. Love your parents? You sacrifice resentments against them. Love your husband or wife? You sacrifice being with anyone else. Love your children? You sacrifice personal objectives. The amount you sacrifice equals the amount you love.
Sometimes we sacrifice too much. Many psychologists run to label an overabundance of sacrifice negatively. If you sacrifice for the sake of desire, you may be labeled “obsessed.” If you sacrifice for the sake of need, you may be labeled “co-dependent.” Sometimes if sacrifice becomes resentment, the relationship is called “toxic.” Naturally, such categorization of sacrifice can be dangerous.
For example, if you love to help people, you might sacrifice all, and become a champion like Mother Teresa. Was Mother Teresa “obsessed”? Most would say she was not obsessed, simply because it is tough to criticize someone on the side of the poor. What if you wish to defend the rich? Then you will be called a lobbyist, not a champion. Even if you dedicate yourself with the same energy as Mother Teresa, you will not gain too much respect for defending the rich. Thus, sacrifice, even with all your might, will not always earn you recognition for your love. Often enough, love and sacrifice are thankless. Keep this in mind.
It is said we cannot control who we love. This is true where it concerns emotions and chemical reactions, but real love, that is, sacrifice, is an action, and can be controlled. For example, you may wake up one morning, and say, “I don’t love my wife today.” But if you treat her with respect, appreciate her actions, and do not cheat on her, you have loved her, whether you feel it or not. You do love her when you sacrifice your emotions for your good actions and loyalty to her.
To love God is no different. You may wake up today and say, “I don’t like God” or even “I hate God” or perhaps “there is no God.” But if you treat God with respect, appreciate God’s actions, and do not cheat on God, you love God. Let’s examine this.
(1) To treat God with respect is to respect God’s work. There are two forms of God’s work to respect. One is the planet we live on, and the people who live on the planet. When we respect creation, and creations, we respect God (it is a bit too complicated to discuss in detail respecting creations here, as people have varying ideas of what it means to respect the Earth or people). The other form of God’s work to respect is the Law of God. There is a Law of God. There must be, and it is one Law. He did not make a different Law for different people, even if some commandments pertain only to, for example, women. When you respect the Law, you respect God, and vice versa. Jesus in Matthew 5:19 said the greatest person is one who keeps the least commandments and teaches them. This is the highest respect for God, that regardless of your emotions for God on any given day, you strive to keep and teach the commandments. Not your will, but His.
(2) To appreciate God's actions is simply to be thankful.
(3) To not cheat on God is to have no other gods before Him, to be loyal. This is easy if you follow His Law, for you follow no other.
This is how to love God.
The second part of the commandment is to love God with all of your might. What does it mean to love with all of your might? Simply, it means what you can do right now, at this moment.
Your might cannot be measured against anyone else's might. Your physical, emotional, chemical, mental, and even spiritual limitations and barriers cause you to succeed and fail at your own rate. To compare your might with anyone else's is not fair. Furthermore, your might today will likely not be the same as your might tomorrow, and in fact your might ten seconds from now will likely not equal the might you have at this very instant. It is therefore also unfair to compare your might at any given moment against your might at any other given moment.
This is not to say that commandments should be ignored, nor that one has waiver from any. If one cannot, or simply does not, fulfill a commandment, one should seek the forgiveness of God for failing. Perhaps you had the best of intentions from the start but if the result is absent, you must repent for it.
Perhaps the hardest thing to do is to admit you are wrong and say you are sorry. This is hard enough between people, harder between a person and the Lord. Therefore, if you do ask forgiveness, you have done a hard thing.
Will God forgive? While we may count upon the forgiveness of God for nearly every transgression (there are exceptions), God would prefer in no uncertain terms that you obey rather than seek atonement. 1 Samuel 15:22 says: "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
We cannot simply not do, and then ask to be forgiven. We must try. We must actually try with all our heart, soul, and might. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment. God is not a human being, and therefore He can see, where others cannot, just how much you really tried, and He appreciates you and your efforts in ways no person can. This is key.
Remember also, God's forgiveness proves His love, not yours.
The forgiveness of God is also not a waiver from any civil penalties which may derive from disobeying the commandments which a Torah court has power to prosecute. In such cases, the court convicts you for your utter lack of might, not your might in comparison to anyone else. Such courts prosecute rebellion and harm, generally not laziness.
Laziness is a trait we as humans all share. The trick is to not let it take over. For laziness begets laziness, then resentment for having to restart the neglected program. While courts generally don't prosecute for laziness, the conscientious believer will prosecute himself or herself for falling down on the job, and possibly will become resentful for having to restart the program. It's better to keep trying, to keep loving God, daily, if for no other reason than to stay in practice.Your love for God can therefore be measured in terms of performance of duty to Him, no matter how you feel about it. In fact, one might say the greatest love for God is following Torah on those days you most resent it.
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