The Ten Commandments appear in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The first four commandments are regarding God, and the other six relate to people. Moses first spoke the words in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Four times this command is spoken in the New Testament: Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; and Luke 10:27. In essence, the first four of the Ten Commandments are summed up this way. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)
The Christian’s number one duty is to love God with all the heart, the soul, the mind, the understanding, and the strength. The Greek word for heart represents the innermost part of a person, the center of one’s personal life. The word used for soul consists of the mind, will and emotions. This includes one’s personality. The word for mind means the faculty of thought, the reflective activity of the heart. The word for understanding basically refers to intellect, and the word for strength means physical ability. It is clear that God wants all that a person is and has to give. He commands His people to love Him with everything they are, with every ounce of their being. Feelings cannot be commanded, so it must be understood that love is not a feeling or an emotion. Love is a decision. For believers, God wants them to decide to love Him in all that they do, for all of their lives.
To love God is to obey His Word. He is greatly delighted when His people obey because He knows that only then will they be the most blessed. He does not want people to act religious and just go through the motions. He knows all and sees through that kind of hypocrisy. He wants heart, soul, mind and strength. “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Loving God also means learning to love what God loves, and to hate what God hates. “You love righteousness and hate wickedness.” (Psalm 45:7) People usually do not think about what God strongly dislikes, and actually hates. People have things that make them angry to the point of abhorrence and, although it may come as a surprise to some, so does God. “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Several verses in the Psalms express hatred towards injustice and wickedness, and towards all the enemies of God. “You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10) There are other verses, but it should be noted that God loves conditionally, not unconditionally. He loves His own people unconditionally, but, like any parent, not everything they do. He offers correction to His children, either directly, through His Word, or indirectly, through other people, “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)
The phrase ‘love the Lord’ appears nine times in the book of Deuteronomy. (6:5; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20) Other instructions accompany the exhortations to love the Lord: keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Carefully keep all these commandments to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him. Obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days. “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) The New King James Version also uses the word burdensome, meaning heavy, afflictive, oppressive, weighty, or severe.
God’s commands are always in the best interest of His people. God is love and God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. His ways are always the best, designed for maximum benefits and blessings in abundance for His people.