My young friend’s question was as deeply earnest as it was misguided:
“I know I need to read and pray every day, but isn’t it just hypocritical to go through the motions on days when I’m not feelin’ it?”
It’s not hard to trace this line of reasoning to its source. In Western thought, a command to love is nearly an oxymoron–or even an outrage. Love is a word that conjures visions of irresistible urges and involuntary heart palpitations. A command to love suggests hypocrisy, coercion, or legalism.
In the context of Deuteronomy 6, the command to hear and to love may land on 21st-century ears with dissonance, but God’s words through his servant Moses set the agenda for an entire nation:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5)
Furthermore, Shema, the Hebrew word for the verb “to hear,” carries with it an implied obedience, a hearing that leads seamlessly into action.
As a New Covenant woman, the law “written on my heart” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV) fuels a connection between hearing and doing, but I am an imperfect practitioner of God’s righteous requirements.
No nonsense wisdom from author and missionary Elisabeth Elliot lays out “the Christian’s assignment” in this order:
To listen to one word and go out and obey it is better than having the most exalted ‘religious experience,’ for it puts us in touch with God Himself—it is a willed response.” (A Lamp for My Feet, p. 40)
This “willed response” is my pledge of allegiance that says, “I trust you, Lord. This is what you have laid out as the path to knowing you, and I will meet you on this path, even when my feelings don’t support my actions.”
It’s always a gift to team up and share truth alongside Living By Design Ministries, and I’m hoping you’ll join me over there for more on this tension between whole hearted obedience and a comprehensive love for God and others. Click here to continue reading!
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