In Mark 12:30, Jesus told us the greatest command we need to follow is to love God with all our heart (emotionally), soul (volitionally/will), mind (intellectually), and strength (physically). If we are to live biblically, the most important command we need to follow is to love God with everything we have.
In Genesis 22, Abraham is an example of what this means. How did Abraham love God with all his strength? What was the physical aspect of his love for the Lord?
Genesis 22 is the passage where God tells Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Take a couple minutes to read verses 1 through 18 if you have your Bible handy, or you can follow this link: Genesis 22: 1-18.
Abraham is now over 110 years of age. But, note what this centenarian does (Verses 3 & 4 NKJV).
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off.
This old man gets up early, saddles a donkey, splits wood and then takes a three-day journey. This was a three-day journey through the desert, not in an air-conditioned Mercedes, but on a donkey. Not exactly a pleasant experience for someone half his age!
But Abraham’s love for God was such that he was willing to put in the physical effort needed to get the job done. Note that even though he was wealthy and had servants, he does not ask the servants to do the saddling or splitting. He does it himself.*
Christian History tells us that first century Christians would rise before daybreak on Sunday to meet for services. Before Christianity dominated the western world, Sunday was just another work day for most people. But these believers would meet before going to a long day’s work. Many in twenty-first century have a hard time getting up to make it to a 9 or 10 o’clock church service. What does this indicate about our love for God?
Abraham demonstrated what it means to love God with everything we have. Our love for God includes our emotions, our will, our intellect, and our labor.
What is God’s evaluation of Abraham’s love? Scripture calls him “the friend of God.” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8) The root of the Hebrew word for “friend” is the word for “love.” God tells us through these scriptures that Abraham was someone who loved God.
James links the fact Abraham was called “the friend of God” to the offering of Isaac (James 2:21-23).
What is God’s opinion of us? Are we God’s friend? Do we love him with all we have? Or are we holding something back that we love better?
*Some have concluded that Isaac was the “he” who split the wood. This may be possible from the wording of the passage, but the interpretation that Abraham does it seems to fit the sentence structure better.
More articles in this series:
All you need is love
Loving God with everything we have
Loving God with all: How Abraham loved God with all his heart
Loving God with all: How Abraham loved God with all his soul
Loving God with all: How Abraham loved God with all his mind