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 soul? What was the volitional 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.
As was mentioned in the last installment of this series, Abraham demonstrated his love for God by being willing to give up his beloved son, Isaac. There is never a hint in this passage of any unwillingness by Abraham to do this.
In verse 2, we have the command of God. Verse 3 says Abraham rose early in the morning to make preparation and leave. There was no delay. Abraham did not wait around for a week to see if God would change his mind.
Verse 10 indicates he fully intended to carry this through to the end: “And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” (NKJV) This is confirmed by God’s words in verse 12: “you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
We may say we love God, but are we wiling to do what he tells us to do? God does not expect us to kill our children; that’s not the point of this passage.* But he does want us to be willing to do anything he asks.
We may say we love God, but unless we, by an act of the will, do what he says, we are lying. The Apostle John writes in 1 John 5:3 (NKJV),
this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
Abraham demonstrated that he loved God with all his heart and soul. He loved God with his emotions and will. Our love for God should make us willing to give up anything we love and do anything he commands.
*Many have (rightly) bristled at this passage because of the command to slay Isaac. It must be remembered that during this time child sacrifice was common. God was teaching there is a better way. Throughout the Bible, God is gradually directing his people away from the practices which had become so ingrained in society. The “better way” of animal sacrifice eventually was supplanted by an even better way in Christ. See Hebrews chapter 9.
Next time: How Abraham loved God with all his mind
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