The Bible teaches us that we need to love God. And not just casually love him, but to do it with all our heart, soul, and mind. That little word all is a big deal and the teaching in the Bible isn’t set forth as a suggestion.
Everywhere it’s written in the Bible to love the Lord your God is written as a command.
How do we fulfill this command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind? We must understand both what it means, and that God will help us.
To know what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, let’s start at the beginning.
Origin of Love
The first time the command is found is in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “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.”
When Jesus was asked by the religious leaders what was the most important commandment, this is what he said.
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?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:28-30).
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Jesus not only echoed the words written by Moses, but he added in the part about loving others. Then to top it off, he declared that everything, all the law and the prophets, hung or relied upon these two commands.
Loving God and each other is our highest calling.
What Is All Your Heart?
Looking at the word heart in both Hebrew and Greek, we find the same thing. The heart is in the middle or center of you; that which comes from within you. It’s your thoughts, feelings, inclinations, and understanding.
In the Old Testament, we’re instructed on how to take care of this thing called our heart and why, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
Jesus elaborates on everything flows from it in both Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45. Each a little different, but both tell us that a heart that overflows results in speaking.
When you love God with all your heart, not only your behavior but what you say will be the evidence.
What Is All Your Soul?
Looking at this word soul in Hebrew and Greek, we find a bit of a variation. Yet we can arrive at the same place. In Greek, it simply means breath or spirit. But in Hebrew, it goes deeper.
The soul, or breath, is more than just an abstract word for life. It’s the individual, the self, the person or creature, as well as the mind. This speaks of deep thought and deliberate choice.
Your soul incorporates all of who you are. In Luke 21:19, Jesus talks about taking possession of your soul.
It’s through taking ownership of the soul God gave you and directing all you are toward him, that you love him with all your soul.
What Is All Your Mind?
The Hebrew account of the command doesn’t use the word mind. That falls under the soul as previously addressed. Part of the Greek definition is included in the soul as well.
However, the original command uses the word strength, as is found in the Gospel of Mark also. The differences aren’t to confuse but to elaborate on the depth of meaning.
One of the definitions of mind in Greek is “the faculty,” meaning inherent mental or physical power. The meaning of strength in Greek is power, might, force, and ability. This aligns with the Hebrew word strength meaning might and force.
The Hebrew word for strength then takes it a layer deeper meaning abundance, exceedingly much, and muchness. Those words are often applied to the character of God.
To love God with all your mind (or strength) is to love him as much as he loves you.
How Do We Do This?
All of what you’ve just read sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It is, and according to Scripture, we aren’t able to do this on our own. See what Jesus said.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The first thing we need to fulfill this command is to make the Lord God our personal God. The command is to love the Lord your God. Once we do this, we receive power. Ephesians 3:16-19 puts it this way:
…out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Receiving that impartation of knowing God’s love is crucial to you being able to love God. You cannot give what you do not have.
His love within you is the source to love him, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
When you find yourself falling short of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, turn to receiving more of his love for you.
Benefits of Loving God Like This
It is so true to the character of the Lord our God that he not only empowers us to do what he commands, he rewards us when we do.
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands (Deuteronomy 7:9-10).
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28).
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:5).
When you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, you’ll be blessed abundantly, and exceedingly much.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
For further reading:
How do I Love My Neighbor as Myself During COVID-19?
What Does Love in Action Look Like?
How Do I Bless the Lord Oh My Soul?
‘Faith, Hope, and Love’ Why Is Love the Greatest in 1 Corinthians 13?
What Does it Mean That God Is Our Abba Father?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Natali_Mis
Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, coach, and speaker who helps people embrace their value and heal their souls through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn, Love’s Manifesto, Because You Matter, and hosts the Victorious Souls Podcast. A long-time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/