If you were conducting a survey and walked up to people and asked them, “What do you love most in the world?”, you would get all kinds of answers. If you asked me, I would probably say, “Pizza”. You would say, “No, really, what do you love most? More than anything.” I would reply, “Pizza, really, with sausage, mushrooms, and onions.” Now, if I had just gotten through reading the Bible and you came up and asked me that question, I might say, “God”. (If I wasn’t hungry)
If asked if we love God, all Christians would answer “yes”. But consider the following verses from the Book of Mark when Jesus was asked by a scribe what was the greatest commandment of all.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.e Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30 NIV)
Since we are sinners, loving God to the degree that He commands is something we can only hope to achieve. What does it mean to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Here are some of my thoughts on that question.
“with all your heart”
We love our spouse, children, and family, but our love of God should come first in our heart. We do not return His love in a lukewarm manner, but are enthusiastic about our feelings. Everyone knows how we feel, because when you love someone, you tell people about it. When parents speak about their children, it is usually obvious to the listener that they love them. The same should be true when we talk about God.
Our relationship with God is not based solely on our intellect and philosophical curiosity. It is not primarily a scholarly exercise, because that is not really a relationship at all.
“and with all your soul”
Returning God’s love has eternal consequences. Heaven is inhabited by those souls, who not only try to do God‘s will, but who also love Him. If you love someone, you want to be with him. Prayer is how we can be with God, and we do it as much as possible.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26 NIV)
“and with all your mind”
When you love someone, you are interested in him. We want to know as much as we can about the person. We Christians read the Bible, and learn all we can about God. We enjoy discussing Him with others who love Him. He is on our mind much of the time because we love to think about Him.
“and with all your strength.”
We continue to love God through all of life’s trials and difficulties. Our feelings do not change. We sacrifice our time, effort, and money to Him because we love Him. We don’t grumble and complain about our circumstances because we know that God is in control of our lives, and we live according to His will. We have complete confidence that we will love God throughout our entire lives.
God created us, loves us, protects us from evil, guides our lives, sacrificed Himself for our sins, and controls our eternal destiny. In return, we strive to love Him more than anyone or anything in our lives. Our job in life is to learn to love God; it’s really not that complicated.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:4-9 NIV)