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“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

THE BASIC IDEA CONTAINED IN THIS TEXT IS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURES. I have not counted them, but if you took all the occurrences of “with all your heart and soul” (and all the variations thereof) and put them together, it would be an impressive list. Clearly, what God wants is for us to seek Him wholeheartedly.

In our text, however, Moses was not just speaking of a generic seeking of the Lord; he was talking about Israel returning to God after having forsaken Him. His point was that God would be willing to forgive them and bless them if they returned with all their hearts. No hypocritical or apathetic return would be accepted.

Wholeheartedness may be thought of in various ways. If we said somebody did something “with all his heart,” that would mean his effort was diligent, passionate, focused, and committed. All of these, and more, are involved when God said that Israel must return “with all your heart and with all your soul.”

If a person has not yet obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:37–41), the idea of wholeheartedness should be given careful consideration. To seek God’s forgiveness of our sins is a serious matter, as is committing ourselves to lifelong faithfulness after we’ve been forgiven. Jesus urged us to “count the cost” of discipleship (Luke 14:25–33). If we’re not willing to throw the doors open and give God access to every room in our hearts (even the “secret” ones), it is doubtful that our intentions are as serious as they should be.

There is a sense in which becoming a Christian is always a “return” to God. We were born into this world innocent of any sin and in a relationship with God that was beautifully right. It was only when we first went against what we knew to be God’s will that our fellowship with Him was broken and we found ourselves, somewhat like Israel, banished to a foreign land, spiritually speaking. The gospel of Christ offers restoration to those who return — but only to those who come back with a commitment befitting the majesty and love of God. Our loyalty must be absolutely unconditional. Surely, our Heavenly Father — our Merciful King — deserves this.

“To my God, a heart of flame; to my fellowmen, a heart of love; to myself, a heart of steel” (Augustine of Hippo).

Gary Henry — +

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