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And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Because God never changes we can make this statement: what He requires of us today is no different than what He required of Israel long ago. As with every generation, what He requires of us is nothing beyond our ability if we are motivated by devotion to Him. In other words, He does not ask the impossible of us — just love and fear Him. To love Him means our service to Him is from the heart and not the head. I have long believed that this is where everything has to start, in fact, this is the initial step in the first and great command — Love God with all your heart. Therefore, we serve and obey because we love Him, perhaps even more than we fear Him.

That being said, we should possess a good dose of Godly fear and reverence. The Bible tells us that the “fear of the LORD” is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). More literally, proper fear of God is the “head” of knowledge, meaning that knowledge without proper respect is useless. When we love Him and when we fear Him, we will serve Him. That is the logical result of putting the other components in their proper place. Of course, all of this sounds very similar to Micah’s admonition: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

We are reminded of this same theme in the New Testament. In fact, Messiah alluded to these very passages when He said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23). He didn’t say, “Stop doing the things the Word requires.” To the contrary, He said they were to continue obeying the Word but, without ignoring what obedience to God was all about — that is, learning the greater aspects of service. To obey the written commands without acknowledging the weightier matters was fruitless.

That message is just as relevant today as it was then. If we’re not careful, we can go through the motions of obedience and never realize what God is trying to teach us. The invisible things — mercy, justice, faith — are embedded within the things He tells us to do and that is why we must love and fear Him. Our hearts must be in the right place and our respect for Him so strong so that we might come to understand what obedience to God is really all about. In the end, it is not for His benefit but for ours.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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