The Pharisees and Sadducees put a great deal of time and effort into analyzing the Mosaic Law and disputing the weight of its 613 rules. Was this one more important than that one? Did one apply when another didn't? Jesus cut right through the debate by summarizing the Law in two key principles: Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:34).
Even before instructing His people to love Him, God identified Himself by various names that revealed His character. For example, Jehovah refers to His being a faithful covenant keeper, and Elohim speaks of infinite power. Through His names, God was drawing attention to His worthiness to be loved above anyone or anything else, and also to His willingness to love extravagantly. He makes unbreakable promises to us and has the power to keep every one.
Scripture doesn't exaggerate God's desire for His children to love with their entire being. When He calls Himself a jealous God and demands our devotion, He is pointing out our absolute need for Him (Ex. 20:5). Anything that takes higher priority in our life is an idol and, therefore, a detriment. We are to love one another and ourselves, but nothing should be more important or more central to our existence than Jehovah.
People were created to be loved by God and to love Him in return. Worshipping Him with anything less than our whole self short-circuits His purpose for us. The faithful Covenant Keeper, who is infinite in power, made us for relationship so that we could know, serve, and honor Him.
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