“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30 NKJV)
It’s a beautiful verse, isn’t it? It shows up in multiple spots in the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:4,5; Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). When read from the pulpit, it inspires several amens. It sums up our duty as Christians and how we are to live our lives. It is very specific.. but yet so vague.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart. Check.
With all your soul. Check
With all your mind. Check.
With all your strength. Check.
Check, check, check, check… I think.
Five words jumped out at me today as I read this passage and I realized, even though I intend to live this way, I don’t really know what this verse means. And if I don’t really know what it means; well, how can I live and love as Jesus calls me too?
The five words: love, heart, soul, mind, strength. So I begin my word study, asking the Lord to open my eyes to His will, and realize that maybe I haven’t been taking this first commandment as seriously as I thought I have.
Love. In the Greek it is agapao, which is a verb or an action word. It is the same word used in John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 to describe how God loves us, His children — so much that He gave His only Son to die for us. This love isn’t a feeling. It is something that is done. It is something that is lived out. Or better yet, died for. And I wonder…
Am I really willing to die to self in order to live for Jesus? Am I willing to give up 10 minutes of sleep to read my Bible, when all I really want to do is hit the snooze button? Am I willing to pass up the pretty new nail polish that I really want (and only cost $5) when the Lord asks me to take my new neighbor out for coffee? Am I willing to put down my iPhone when the Lord asks me to spend some time talking to my kids about their day? Am I willing to give up (fill in the blank) when the Lord asks me to (fill in the blank)?
Heart. This is the center of all physical and spiritual life. It is where all our thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors are born.
Do I take care of both my physical and spiritual well being in order to serve the Lord? Or do I slack when it comes to fitness? Do I slack when it comes time with God? Do I spend time thinking about how big my God is or how big my problem is? Do I fuel my passion for Christ through pray and time in the Word? Or do I fuel my passion for pretty material things by day dreaming about the stuff I wish I had? Do I desire to know my God and His will or do I feed my appetite for constant entertainment? Have I come to realize that my purpose in life is to worship Him or am I still endeavoring to make more money and to be more comfortable?
Soul. This refers to the breath of life. It is our moral being that will continue on for eternity after our physical selves die. Which make me wonder: Do I love the Lord my God with every breath? Do I surrender every moment and decision to Him?
Mind. The place where our thoughts, good or bad, are produced; where we understand, feel about, or desire something. Are my every thoughts directed toward Him? Do I look to His word for wisdom and understanding? Do I let His truth influence my feelings and desires? Or do I let my feelings and desires influence what I believe to be true?
Stength. This word is pretty simple. In the Greek it means ability, force, might, and wait for it… strength. Do I give God everything I have or do I give up when things get hard? Do I believe that I have access to a source of strength that will inable me to do all that He asks? Or am I still operating on my own strength?
If I’m honest I don’t like the answers to most of these questions, because I don’t love God with my all. I want to, but I don’t. In this human body, while my flesh and my spirit battle, I can not give God my all all of the time. But then I remember when I am weak, and this is pretty much all the time, He is strong. I remember that the only way to love Him with my all is to rely all on Him.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
I remember that as I submit to the Lord, moment by moment, I am made new — more like Christ. And some day I will be able to give Him my all all of the time, but until then I will rely on His grace because it is sufficient.
Only by grace,
Note: All word definitions come from Strong’s Concordance which can be accessed through blueletterbible.org. Find out how to use this tool here.