Summary: In giving us the Ten Commandments, God calls us to love God with all our heart, soul and might.
Deuteronomy 5:1-21, 6:4-9 “A Pleasing Life”
Multi-tasking is a popular idea in our culture today. The idea that we can accomplish more by doing two, three or four things simultaneously is appealing. There is only one problem, though—experts say it doesn’t work. We end up doing several things badly. Texting and driving—even talking on a cell phone while we drive makes us dangerous drivers. Watching a football game while sawing a piece of lumber is not a good idea. Catching up on your emails while carrying on a conversation with your spouse does not really nurture the relationship.
Motivational Experts encourage people to focus and teach that focus is an important tool for success. Anthony Robbins states, “Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” “I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention” is the sage advice of Diane Sawyer. The great Danish theologian and existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard weighs in with this thought, “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ it may be good to ponder these wise words and to ask ourselves, “What is the focus of our attention; what are our dominant thoughts?”
God appears to know about the importance of focus. God commands the Israelites with these words, “Hear O Israel: ‘The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’” Faithful Jews have recited these words (called the Shema) two times a day from the days of Moses until now. A few of the very conservative and orthodox Jews, the Hasidim go to the extreme of literally binding the law on their foreheads and arms.
I must confess that when I get up in the morning this call to focus on my relationship with God is not what is on my mind. I often wake up and go directly to my calendar to see where I am to be, at what time and with who. Certainly these are important considerations. Still they switch my focus away from loving and serving God to focusing on the clock.
I know people who go through their work week focused on the weekend. They live for the weekends. We can imagine what their job performance is like with such a focus. With a focus like this we can easily understand what they would quickly begin to find their jobs boring and would find every excuse they could not to work.
What would happen if we refocused our attention solidly on our relationship with God? Would it make any difference if we started to recite these words, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone and we will love the Lord our God with all of our soul, and with all of our heart and with all of our might”? I know that when I have done this I have been able to see God’s love and grace more clearly in my life. I am also able to see things from a better perspective and to establish better priorities in my life.
We are a tired and overworked people. A significant percentage of us do not get enough sleep. Some of us are even proud of the fact that we don’t get enough sleep. A significant number of us are so busy that we catch ourselves coming and going. We work, we commute, we chauffer the kids to all of their activities, we grab fast food and eat it in the car and when we finally end our day we drop exhausted into our beds. We have the same scheduled every day and we do the same things over and over again. This is not an abundant life.
God gave people a precious gift when God said, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” God did need a day when people would give him more thanksgiving and praise, or offer more sacrifices. The Sabbath is not for God, it is for us. We ignore this gift on a regular basis and it keeps us from being focused and from being refreshed and renewed.
The Sabbath doesn’t mean to go to church, nor does it mean to do nothing. The Sabbath is a time of rest—that might be taking a nap. It could also mean doing an activity that refreshes us—perhaps reading a good book or listening to music. Sometimes it means sitting quietly relaxing over a delicious cup of coffee or tea. The Sabbath can even be a time when we pamper ourselves.
The Sabbath challenges us to be more frugal with our time. Spending hours scrolling through the cable channels trying to find something good to watch is not necessarily the best use of our time. Sometimes the Sabbath means that we need to say, “No” to a possible addition to our calendar.