Bible Reading Blog
“Total Devotion”Categories: Congregational Bible Reading
BIBLE READING: Mark 12
“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12.30-31)
Commitment is a buzzword in the religious world but according to Jesus it is the most important element in our relationship with God. As the scribe aptly said, to love with complete devotion is “more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12.33). It is not enough to simply fulfil the requirements in a law book… God desires our devotion.
God’s desire is not unreasonable. After all, God demonstrated his devotion to humanity by sending his own son (John 3.16; Romans 5.8). Why should he expect any less from the people for whom he did this?
The intensity and intentionality of God’s grace should provoke a response. Unfortunately, we live in a world that tends to presume upon God’s grace (Romans 6). We focus on license and liberty because of God’s overwhelming grace while neglecting the fact that God demoted himself to live among and to save us (Philippians 2.6). If we bear the name Christian, should we not also follow his example of devotion (1 John 2.6)? Jesus did not choose his moments of commitment but rather he submitted his mind, his heart, his body, and all of his energy to doing the will of God in every moment (Matthew 4.8-10; John 5.19; Luke 22.42).
Far too often we excuse our sins rather than submitting to the will of God and putting to death our selfish desires. It’s much easier to defend my imperfection than it is to deny myself, take up my cross and follow after Christ. But honest devotion is what God truly desires.
Any one of us could make concessions for why we are not wholly committed to a relationship with God, but at the end of the day these are just excuses from a mind weakened by selfish desires. If we believe in the power and authority of Jesus, we are not those who shrink back and succumb to our war against the flesh (Hebrews 10.35-39).
Christ saved us and empowered us through his word (Philippians 4.13) so that we could once again be reconciled to God and live the lives we were designed to live. But we must choose to be deliberate about our commitment to God in every moment (Ephesians 5.16).
What exactly does this mean for us? It means we minimize the time we spend watching TV and playing games and maximize our time getting to know God. It means that in every conversation we are mindful of not just what God would say but how God would say it. It means that there is no relationship or interaction too insignificant that we do not consider the impact it will have on our relationship with God.
God desires total devotion. When you consider Jesus’ comments… does that describe your life? My guess is that most of us could think of areas where we could improve our commitment to God. The righteous person may fall but will always rise by the grace of God (Proverbs 24.16). That is the challenge of grace and that is the desire of God.