"And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him,'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment," (Matthew 22:35-38, ESV).
In my last blog, "Let's Talk," I invited those of you who were so inclined to engage in conversation with me concerning this great and first commandment—love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. From this commandment I made two points. First, if Jesus said loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind is the great and first commandment, it must be important to Him for us to love Him. Second, if it's important to God that we love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, to be able to fulfill this commandment we need to know how. Then I asked two questions. Why is our loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind important to Him? How do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind?
I received the following responses.
Why is our loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind important to Him?
The commandment tells me what benefits me most not Him. He needs nothing but wishes all His children to return to the communion we once shared with Him and each other. This commandment guides us to focus on the only hope we have of finding communion with Him. I must overcome the overwhelming temptation drawing me to love and serve my earthly needs. Turning my focus fully to loving and serving Him is The Way taught and lived by Jesus.
I have pondered this question for a couple of days wishing I could come up with something really profound. But, the truth is, I’m not a theologian and most of the time, my thoughts are fairly simple minded. Nonetheless, I keep thinking about the book of Genesis, how God “in the beginning” created the heavens and the earth. He created a universe for mankind. From the beginning of time God has sought for the attention of man. He desired a relationship with us and He has gone to great lengths to provide for us, shelter us, protect us, and give us life more abundantly. I truly believe God has invested “His all” on mankind, and as Luke 12:48 (partially quoted) says, “ For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." God has given more then we deserve, therefore, I believe it is VERY important to Him that we love him with all our heart, soul, and mind because He has given us His heart, soul/spirit, and mind.
How do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind?
This is both the simplest and most difficult task. Ask Him what He wants of me in each moment; seek His answer continually without self interest, expectation, or desire; trust that He always answers; act upon what I believe His guidance to be; never judge another based on my guidance or understanding; and to never ever be certain that I know what He is telling me.
This question is, for me, much easier to answer. Loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind starts with fellowship on all levels; reading the Word, prayer, and meditating on Him daily is a MUST if you want to fall in love with your whole heart, soul, and mind! God is the Word, therefore we must read the Word daily, study it, absorb it with our whole mind and being. When you’re in the Word daily, your soul is fed and you will learn of His character, His nature, and who He is. Prayer plays (in my opinion) the biggest part in loving Him. Just as any couple or person needs daily conversation to have a healthy loving relationship. Daily conversation with Jesus is the only way to build a heartfelt relationship with Him. He desires that with us, and we should desire that with Him. When a person is in the Word and prays daily, they will learn of His sweetness, and they will fall head over heels in love with the one that created the world for them and love Him with their whole heart, soul, and mind.
First, thank you for engaging in conversation with me. I enjoy digging deeper and appreciate your willingness to invest yourself into this endeavor of mine.
It is true, God needs nothing from us. This first response prompted me to expand my first question: If He needs nothing from us, why does He wish anything for us? Why does He engage us with this commandment? I was given the following answer: "Simply, He is our Father. I need nothing from my kids, but there is nothing I would not do to help them find happiness. If I can have this kind of selfless love as the flawed creature I am, imagine His perfect love as Father."
How true and wonderful. He is our Father, so He loves us selflessly and unconditionally and gives willingly to us. Luke 11:13 says, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (ESV). As our heavenly Father, God desires relationship with us, so He provides a way for us to have relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit. He does this not out of His need for us but because of our need for Him. His love for us pulls us to love Him.
God knows we need to love Him, so our loving Him matters to Him. God is love, and He loved us first so we could then love Him. I John 4:16 says, "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him," (ESV). Verse 19 says, "We love because He first loved us," (ESV). God is love, and He loved us first. His love for us allows God to abide in us, and our love for Him allows us to abide in Him.
As was mentioned in the second response to my first question, God has gone to great lengths to involve us in relationship with Him. His creation of us is evidence of His love for us. God is love, and love requires relationship; therefore, God created man for relationship. And He created us in His image. (See Genesis 1:27.) So since God is love, He created us to love. Our love for Him allows us to engage in relationship with Him.
As the first response to my second question already points out, loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind is simple, yet it is most difficult. It is simple because it is obvious. We love God completely by submitting ourselves completely to Him. It is most difficult because, as humans, we are limited by selfish and conditional love. Our ego is our greatest hindrance to loving God completely.
So how, then, can we incapable humans love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? Romans 5:5 says, "...and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us," (ESV). God gives His love to us through His Spirit. Therefore, we are able to love God completely through the love He gives us through the Holy Spirit.
"And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment,'" (Matthew 22:37, ESV).
It is important to God that we love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind because God is love, and we were created to love Him. And we love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind by loving Him with His love through the help of the Holy Spirit.
God's love towards us makes us His abiding place, engages Him in relationship with us, and gives us the ability to love Him back. Our love towards God allows us to abide in Him, engages us in relationship with Him, and gives us access to His provision of love through His Spirit. This great and first commandment is all about Him because it's all about us. And fulfilling it completes us. God is love, so we love Him because of Him. God is wonderfully perfect. I love that about Him!