To Love God

by Rhonda, April 03, 2022

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

My daughter arrived home from work looking tired.  She'd been on her feet, working in a busy restaurant, and she was ready for a break.  Her face was pale with exhaustion from studying for midterms, and dark circles below her eyes told the story of late nights of schoolwork.

As she walked in the door, she collapsed onto the couch.  Glancing into the kitchen, she asked me, "What's Alex up to?"

"He's getting ready to bake a cake," I said.  "He has to bake a cake for his culinary class this week.  I don't have time to help him because I have to work.  Would you mind?"

She sat quietly on the couch for a minute.  "Just answer his questions," I prodded.  "You don't have to bake the cake."

Slowly she nodded.  "I will, don't worry Mom, we'll get it done."

She took her tired self into the kitchen, sat on a barstool, and began to read Alex's recipe.  He was trying to determine the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, and his frustration was starting to boil.  As I headed out to the office, a thought entered my mind.

She is loving the Lord with all of her strength.  

When God commands us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, it is because all are needed to fully love God.  If we love God with our mind, but no strength, then we have a head full of knowledge with no action.  If we love God with all of our strength, but not our heart or mind, we have worthless, empty good deeds.  God in his infinite wisdom knew that we needed to love with all four to fully love him with all we are.

The Heart:  Loving God with all of our heart is the core of a person's identity.  Have you ever heard the phrase The heart wants what the heart wants?  What if our hearts wanted Jesus?  Loving God with all of our heart means we have a high priority on maintaining our connection with Him.  We fall away from God when we don't maintain a personal connection with Him.  Our heart can be set on many things.  We can set it on money, status, relationships, or whatever else captures our attention.  But, when we set our heart on God, that's where our affections will live.  

Loving God needs to be the central theme of our lives, even when we've made mistakes.  Even when sin seems to creep back into our lives.  We can be determined that we will continue to reset our course over and over, continuing to pursue a personal connection to Him.  Without constant correction, we'll end up in Siberia when we want to be in the Bahamas.  When our heart strays, we can ask God to please help us to finish the race to continue seeking Him.  Returning to God over and over is part of loving Him with our whole heart.  What is it that your heart dwells on?

The Soul:  Loving God with all of our soul means we love God deep down inside, regardless of whether our emotions are up and down.  There's a part of us, deep inside, that knows our Creator.  When the heart stops beating, the soul will continue on, and our souls are continually searching for God.  When emotions are up, our souls can still love God.  When our emotions go wacky and want to rage when there's no chocolate in the house, our souls can still love God.  Soul love for the Lord is a deep love, an unshakeable devotion to the One who loves us perfectly.  

Circumstances can certainly wreak havoc in our lives.  Emotions can trigger us into sinful actions.  But, we can't live by what we want, think, and feel.  We must live by the word of God, and our deep soulful love of the Lord can remain, regardless of our wayward actions.  The flesh will always fight to satisfy the soul with things of the world, but the Holy Spirit, when given control of the soul, will continue to grow a deeper love for God.  

The Mind:  I personally believe the hardest part of this commandment is to love God with our minds.  Our minds, without being continuously led to the Lord, will be full of doubt, fear, and unforgiveness.  But, God is leading us alongside a way He designed just for us.  Whenever we are struggling with problems, we must guard our thoughts and spoken words carefully.  If we focus too much on all of the thing that aren't working in our lives, it won't take long for our discouragement to increase and our strength to be sapped.  Instead, we can take time to praise God.  We can read words of scripture that help us rejoice in Him.  

The wonderful thing about working to love God with our minds is the greater ability to make right decisions.  When we study and spend time in the word of God, our hearts began to become aligned with God's will for our lives.  Love is a choice, and loving God with our minds is a daily choice.  Our minds must be trained and taught to love God.  The devil never seems to let up, and he is always delivering consistent attacks.  His goal is to gain control of your mind, moving you to away from loving God, and dragging you into a terrible pit.  But, we can train our mind to turn from these things and focus on God.

The Strength:  Loving God with all of our strength is loving God with all of our physical energy.  As humans with limited energy, each day only holds so much strength for us to use.  I came to the conclusion a while back that I should not put my devotions off until I am exhausted, wanting to go to sleep, causing me to rush through God's divine appointments with me.  I should be giving God the best of my day when I am energetic, not the worst leftovers.  

We are commanded to serve each other by praying for one another, encouraging each other, teaching each other, honoring each other, forgiving each other, and even bearing each other's burdens.  We can love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.  But, we can't fulfill the list above without using our strength.  Where we spend our energy matters.  God doesn't command us to work nonstop, make as much money as possible, and retire early.  While working is important, our energy is given to us to also love others.  When we use our energy to do the right things, without tiring of it, God will take care of everything else.

Tonight, as we ate Alex's cake, I looked at my weary daughter.

"Today, you loved God with your service to your brother.  You did the right thing even when you didn't feel like it."

She smiled, gave me a hug and headed to the basement for some much-needed downtime.  

This week, I want to refocus.  

My goal is to love God with everything, and more than anything.  Because He loved me first.

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