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Love God with all our heart, soul and mind

part 1 - the principles                Go to part 2

Of all the things which a Christian must do in their lives, the absolute greatest and most important is to love God with everything you have.  

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered,…..And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark Ch. 12: 28-31

We are to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with our entire mind and with all our might.

The law of love is the basis upon which a believer’s life is built. God shows us His love through the grace he offers. The Bible is full of examples of his kindness, mercy, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. Of course, if we accept the love and mercy of God, then we will naturally want to show, in a similar way, mercy and love to others.

Why should we love God? …because he is the Creator

Why should we love God? The big reason is that God created us. If it wasn’t for God, you, me and everybody else would not exist. There is only one reason we are standing here on this planet we call Earth, and that is because God chose to put the human race here.

 God's beautiful creation

Not only did he create us, but He created everything around us. The trees, plants, birds, fish, animals, mountains, rivers, atmosphere – they are all here because God chose to put them here. He created these things for us, so that not only would we have the environment to sustain our life but also that the place we live would be pleasant and pleasing.

But some may ask, why did God create us and everything around us? Because he wanted to love us. He did it all because of his all-consuming love for us, as his creation. And he wanted us to love Him I return. This is why we should return our love to God.

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.     1 John 4:7-11

The physical evidence of God’s love for us is the sending of His son Jesus to save us.

Why should we love God? …because of His great love for us

The Bible makes it very clear that God loves us deeply and wishes only the best for us.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,   Exodus 34:6

God is abounding / great / abundant in his love for us. The original Hebrew word [1] behind “steadfast love” tells us that God had not only enduring love for us but also the desire to show kindness to us.

John understood very clearly about the love of God as he wrote in one of his letters:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.    1 John 4:8

The original Greek word [2] behind “love” in this verse is “agape”.  This word is unique to Scripture and implies a special kind of love. This special love is one of kindness that seeks the greatest good of others whether or not they deserve it. So even though men and women do not deserve God’s love because of their failure sometimes to obey His commands, God is still willing to show kindness to them. This is “agape” love.

The man of God known as David said these words:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

David very confidently says that a huge abundance of gracious goodness will flow to him from God (who is his King and Host). As David goes through his life, the love of God (in the form of mercy and goodness) will follow him. The Christian can feel reassurance that they will experience the same, if they remain obedient and committed to their God.

God makes it very clear about the extent of His love when he spoke to the Israelites:

but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them.

He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.

“And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers.     Deuteronomy 7:8-12

We can see that God’s love is plentiful and enduring for those who love Him and keep his commandments.

Yet, these verses in Deuteronomy reveal that there are some out there in the world who will not be receptive to God’s love.

The unfortunate reality

From that day of creation so many years ago, not all of his human creation has chosen to return their love to Him. Many have rejected Him, despised Him, ignored Him, disobeyed His wishes and chosen to replace Him with other false gods. So sadly, many have completely or partially chosen to disregard the most important of all the laws of love – to give total commitment to loving God.

Even Christian’s fail sometimes to show love for God, when they purposely disobey His commandments. But the reassuring message in the Bible is that God still covers believers with His love even though we don’t deserve it.

What does Jesus say about this command?

Jesus saw the command to love God as being so important that he tells us this:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 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. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”     Matthew 22:34-40

The command that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind was so important that Jesus virtually said that everything that had happened throughout the Old Testament revolved around this one command and the associated command of loving our neighbours. Everything the prophets of old said, and everything that the law instructed, revolved around this principle.

So, it is clear that person wanting to live the life of a Christian cannot afford to ignore this command.

This command lay down the principle upon which the whole Bible was based on, that we should give God all our love. This is God's ultimate goal and it is above all other goals - that we should give our all to Him.

The events leading to Jesus speaking about this command

Before we go any further, let us look at the events that surrounded this question (in the above Matthew chapter 22 quote) being asked.

The quote from Matthew we just read, tells of the incident which happened in the great temple of Jerusalem about two days before Christ died. The Pharisees had asked Jesus a question based on politics, and had been rebuffed. The Sadducees then tried to test Jesus theology but they didn't do any better. It seemed to the Pharisees that Jesus could not be caught out. However, we are told that there was a lawyer among them who decided to try to trap Jesus by asking him a question :

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

It seems the lawyer asked this question because he hoped that Jesus in His reply would say something unorthodox, which would make him guilty of a charge of blasphemy. The lawyer knew full well that there were over six hundred precepts in the law some of which could not be observed. Some, they argued, were of absolute obligation, whereas others were not as important.

This sort of teaching was of course rejected by James who says:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.      James 2:10

This lawyer was very disappointed with the trap he lay, as the reply from Jesus was anything but the unorthodox answer that he was expecting. Jesus quoted straight out of the Old Testament.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.     Deuteronomy 6:4-6

The basic building blocks

The command is saying that God is to be loved unreservedly with every part of your being. And when we go onto look at the rest of the Old Testament and then after that, the New Testament, we see that every single moral or religious standard laid down in the law or projected by the prophets is based on this command or the other command of loving our neighbours.

We are looking here at the basic building blocks upon which the whole Bible is built. With the knowledge in our mind that this is the ultimate command of us - dare we disobey?

Summary of part one of this article

Religion consists of loving God. This command is confirming this by saying that God has these expectations: we must give our total love, a love which dominates our emotions, a love which directs our thoughts, and a love which motivates every one of our actions.

The Bible is all about this love which involves a total commitment of life to God. This love is not one of dripping sentimentality but of one where there is a total commitment which evolves into devotion to God.

In part two of this article…

Footnotes

[1] The Old Testament in the Bible was originally written in the Jewish Hebrew language.

[2] The New Testament in the Bible was originally written in the Greek language.

Part one of this article has looked at the principles behind this greatest of all commands. Part two will look at the practical application of this command in our lives.

 

Top of page         Go to part 2

 

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 March 2015