By Steven Davis
Last time we looked at context regarding God’s Word, and I concluded with the importance of asking this question, How do you fit and how are you fitting within the truth and scope or God’s Word? Or another way to put it: “How are you doing?”
Now the second question. How do you fit, and how are you fitting with who God is? In other words, “How’s your relationship with the Lord?”
Do you have the mistaken belief that commandments are all about “Do this,” or “Don’t do this”? Yes, you read that right. It’s a mistaken belief. When you look at the greatest commandment as told to us by Jesus Christ himself, it’s more than just doing.
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” (Mark 12:29-30 NLT)
Now the heart is just one of the things we are to love the Lord with. We’re also to love Him with all our soul, mind and strength. What does that mean?
- To love the Lord with all your heart, means to love Him with all your emotion, your passion.
- To love the Lord with all your soul, means to love Him with all of your spirit.
- To love the Lord with all your mind, means to love Him with all of your intellect and will.
- To love the Lord with all your strength, means to love Him with all of your physicality.
Some of us would like to think that loving God is as simple is following a bunch of rules, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the other way around, because love comes first: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
So, how do we love God? Or, how do we learn to love God?
First of all, we must understand that we can love God, “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NASB). And because He loves us and we love Him, we want to spend time with Him. We want to be with Him. And that’s where the biblical phrase “before the Lord” comes into play. What’s the context for this phrase? Well, look up “before the Lord” in a concordance and the context is:
Come before the Lord… To offer sacrifice and bring offerings. To speak with Him. To receive forgiveness. To hear His word. To feast before the Lord, with your family, and rejoice in all the things which you have accomplished because He has blessed you. When you have a dispute. To enter into covenant with Him. As you prepare for battle. For direction. To wait. To grow. To confess your sins. To plead your case. To dance. To be blessed. To pray. To ask questions. To learn. To sing. To give thanks. To stand. To fall down. To worship. With great gladness. To obey. To do what is good, right and true. To kneel. To complain. To remember. To tremble. To fast. To be silent. To mourn.
Do you see how all these “come befores” pretty much deal with life? They deal with thoughts, words and deeds. They have to do with head, heart and hand. They deal with sorrow, and they deal with joy. But every single one of them is an act of coming before Him. It is a spiritual act, in which we live life before Him. And there’s our context.
Imagine the impact we will have on those around us, even when we are in the midst of others, when we are “before the Lord.” And this isn’t just a matter of prayer. This is a matter of BEING. So my word for 2018 is context. And I’m pretty well convinced that it would be a great word for you too.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).