Several years ago, I read the book “Primal” by Mark Batterson. It was one of the most challenging books I’ve read. It expounds on Deuteronomy 6:5. It says, “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (NLT). When you peel back all the layers of doctrines, rules, and traditions of Christianity, you will find this verse is the basis for a strong relationship with God.
Loving God with all our heart starts when we accept Him as our savior. In Luke 7, Jesus is approached by an immoral woman who weeps on His feet and then washes them with her hair. Everyone was in shocks as they watched this spectacle. Jesus used it as a teaching moment and said, “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Loving God flows from a heart that’s been forgiven.
Loving God with all of our soul goes beyond the affection we feel for Him. It draws us into a life that is devoted to Him like what described in Colossians 1:10. It says, “That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]” (AMP). When we love with all of our soul, our lives reflect it.
Loving God with all of our strength is where I was really challenged in reading “Primal”. I realized that I had been neglecting the gifts that God had given me. I had been so afraid to fail that I never tried. I spent my time working on the first two portions of that verse, but not the third. While that’s good for my own growth, it does very little to help others in their relationship with God. Loving God with all of our strength means stepping out in faith, doing what we were called to do, and letting God do His part.
I Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination].” It takes more than loving God with all your heart and soul to follow what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment. It takes doing something with the gifts He’s given you. Don’t just keep them to yourself. Give them to the world and love God with all your strength.
A while ago, there was a bank commercial where they had hidden cameras and walked up to people on a busy street. They opened a briefcase with $100,000 cash in it, handed it to them, asked them to watch it and said they’d be right back. One man sat down with the briefcase and put it under his legs. He appeared nervous as he looked both ways while clutching the briefcase. He was guarding it even though it wasn’t his. The commercial says, “We gave total strangers $100,000 and they didn’t take a dime.” Each one of them guarded what was given to them.
Paul essentially told Timothy the same thing about his faith. In I Timothy 6:20 Paul wrote, “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you.” His instruction to him and to us is that we are to guard our faith. We should treat it as a precious treasure that has been given to us. The Message says, “Guard it with your life.” Just like now, there were people who were easily distracted by the things of this world and wandered from the faith. They didn’t see their faith as being more valuable than anything the world has to offer, so Paul wanted to remind Timothy of its worth.
In II Corinthians 4:7, Paul described our faith like this. He said, “We have this precious treasure, the Divine Light of the Gospel, in frail human vessels of earth. (AMP)” Our faith is valuable like a treasure. It is not common or ordinary, so why do we treat it as such? We must hold onto it, value it and cherish it the same way we would if we were holding onto something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. When we see our faith as valuable, we do things that protect it. We stay away from temptations that would lead us away from it.
In order to truly value our faith, we have to look at what it cost. That’s why Paul was constantly reminding us in the New Testament of the work Jesus did on the cross. He also spoke of his suffering for it. While salvation is free to you and me, it cost Jesus everything. There’s something in us that devalues what costs us nothing. Paul warned Timothy to not look at faith that way, but to look at it as a valuable treasure worth protecting.
The value you assign to something determines how you treat it. That’s why you wear old clothes to do yard work in. They have little value and you treat them as such. You would never wear your best clothes to do hard work in. You value them too much. The same is true with faith. The less you value it, the less you use it or have a resolve to live up to its demands. On the other side of that, the more you value it, the more you’re willing to sacrifice for God. How much do you value your faith? You just have to look at how you live in order to answer that question.