“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Familiar? An antagonistic Jewish leader had challenged Jesus with “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus chose to respond simply by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, one of the holiest texts in the Hebrew tradition. With those words, quoted here from Mark 12:30, He silenced the crowd.
How does one love the Lord?
By the use of the words heart, soul, mind, and strength, it seems that our love for God should come from our entire being, internal and external. It should be evident in the way we feel and think and by the things we do.
In our time and culture, love is most often described as an emotion. Certainly, there are emotional elements involved in loving God. That’s the love that comes from the heart and soul.
Love is also intellectual. While our feelings might drive us, they should not. We should be driven by our thoughts and will. So, loving God is also a mind event. We think about and affirm the feelings we have for God. Or, even better, we have the feelings because we can comprehend some of the nature of God and react with emotion.
We often think about action coming from the physical part of our being, such as hands, feet, voice. In a real sense, conscious thought is also an action, based on physiological processes within the brain, which is part of the physical body. Loving God with our mind can come in the form of conscious affirmation of God’s lordship in our lives, or assent to His leading to go somewhere or do something.
The only description of love in the Bible comes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Not emotions, these all describe conscious thoughts and physical actions.
It is possible to feel that we love God, based solely on emotion. It is possible to demonstrate our love for God only through conscious thought leading to perceivable action. Love is not a state of being; love is doing. Musician Don Francisco sang, “love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will.”
Jesus also said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Love for God and His Son Jesus Christ, while it might begin internally, is only evidenced externally as we affirm Jesus’ lordship over our lives and do that which He asks us to do.
Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?