Uncategorized

What Does “Love the Lord with All Your Heart” Mean in the Bible?

HisWord2016 - Mark 12:30 - Love the Lord your God with all your Heart –  God's Knot

To love God with your heart means to love God with your emotions. Praising him with your happiness, smile, and gratitude is easy when things are going well. Like when you perceive an answer to prayer or one of life’s good gifts comes your way, but how about when things aren’t going so well? ALL your heart means at ALL times. Even when God seems quiet. Even when he says wait. And even when he says no. And, yes, even when bad things happen. Continuing to love God even when bad things happen or when good things don’t happen is key to a life of contentment. You don’t have to be happy “for” the bad thing. You just have to see through that bad circumstance to the God who wants to comfort you and will never leave you nor forsake you.

Loving God at all times is a day-to-day learning process. We learn more and more how to do it and keep on doing it a little each day. Until soon you can say with the Apostle Paul, I am content no matter what. I can live on almost nothing and I can live with everything. The secret of living in every situation is remembering that I can do everything, I can live through anything, and I can even overcome—through Christ who gives me strength, sustenance, and courage (Philippians 4:11-13). The root word of courage is “cor” which is Latin for “heart.” Living with courage and heart daily is a good way to remind yourself to love God.

“‘Lev’ means heart in Hebrew, and it wasn’t a body part to the Israelites, they had a broader understanding of heart than our culture. They thought of the heart as the organ that gives physical life and the place where you think and make sense of the world, where you feel emotions and make choices”

How to Love God with All Your Soul

To love God with your soul means that innate part of you that always knew that you were created by a Creator. When you let yourself be still and quiet, something inside of you just knows that there is a God. When you look at all of the intricacies of the universe, the planet, and your own body, a piece of you knows.

As Blaise Pascal said in 1670, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

Yes, you have a God-shaped hole within you that can only be satisfied by Him. But then you have to allow yourself to go even further past that simple knowing and let yourself believe that God not only exists but he loves you enough to send his only Son to die and free you from your sins. Your soul takes you much farther than your heart can; it takes you to a solid relationship with the living Lord and as a bonus, heaven.

“‘With all your heart’ means intensely. ‘With all your soul’ means sincerely, most lovingly. ‘And with all your strength’ means with all our energy, with every faculty, with every possibility of our nature.”

How to Love God with All Your Mind

Now that you’re trusting in Him with your heart, you continue to the next area—”not depending on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). It is possible to know and believe in the truth of the Bible and yet still fall for many lies of the world and Satan. You may even know that they are lies, but you still feel like they have a hold on you. Who am I to do this or that? I’m not good enough. Maybe I can take a shortcut and not have to wait on the Lord for this good thing? This person won’t listen to me. That other person doesn’t even care about me. No one will find out if I do this wrong thing.

When I depend on my own understanding, lies run rampant in my brain. They can pop up at any time in an attempt to slow my walk with God. Loving God with my mind means renewing my mind daily so that I think more of his thoughts instead of my own. I know his thoughts by reading the Bible daily. Then with study and repetition, some of his thoughts go in to my brain and dissipate those old lies. God’s will and thoughts are good, pleasing, and perfect. I need as much of them as possible to fill and renew my mind (Romans 12:2).

I can take a cue from Philippians 4:8 and replace lies with thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and virtuous. I can pray and ask God to put a hedge of protection around my mind and thoughts. If I’m honest with myself, I admit that a high percentage of my thoughts are entirely self-focused. But God’s Word gives me a new, much higher perspective. Daily Bible reading will fill my mind so full of good things that there isn’t any room left for those ugly lies. Renewing my mind in God’s Word is an important way of loving God.

How to Love God with All Your Strength

Then I go on to a study of my actions. Do they show a love for God? For if I read God’s Word and don’t obey it, it does me no good. If I merely put the words into my brain without putting them into practice, it’s just an encyclopedia entry—only information, no transformation. Stepping out on faith and taking action enables me to remember what I learned and it may even help other people. God likes it when I’m led by faith to act.

Worship isn’t just singing. It is living by faith so that other people see my example. It is presenting my body and my actions as a living and holy sacrifice to the God I love (Romans 12:1). It is doing things that are right even when people around me don’t understand. It’s speaking up when I see injustices. It’s caring for the physically and spiritually wounded. It is doing hard things that take a lot of effort in order to possibly reap a harvest somewhere down the road. It’s even doing things that are right and good even when we don’t see any kind of reward.

Pleasing God should be my biggest and most wanted reward. A lot of times we do see some kind of reward for our actions of faith, but we don’t always. Not all promises are meant to be fulfilled in the here and now; some will be fulfilled much later, in a grander, more perfect way in the hereafter. Don’t be fooled into the lie that your good deed will go unnoticed forever. It won’t. God loves all our good deeds and will bring something good out of all of them.

Yes, loving God with all my strength means stepping out in faith. It means stepping out of my comfort zone. It means stepping out to help someone. Faith without works isn’t worth much. But faith with works can change a piece of the world for the better.

Like the other concepts, loving God with all my strength is simple to say but not always easy to do. So, I have to remember that I don’t walk any of this out by myself. I have a strength working within me that enables me to keep on going forward. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).

Another way of saying love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength is to seek the Kingdom of God above all else.

  • Think and learn about it.
  • Seek it and you will find it.
  • Seek it and you will love God more and more.
  • Seek it and your perspectives will change for the better.
  • Seek it daily and you will receive what you need.
  • For your Father in heaven loves you.

In reality, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is simply a response. For we love because he first loved us.

Look for the second part of this article; it will be more on what we do with this great love for God. That is what we do “unto others.”

I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Psalm 84:2

Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.

 

Uncategorized

WALK AS YOU’VE BEEN CALLED

Ephesians is different than most of Paul’s letters. Paul is usually straightforward and earnest, but Ephesians is ornate, even wordy. Paul’s letters are usually personal, naming names and addressing specific issues, but Ephesians is formal—strange, considering that Ephesus was arguably Paul’s missionary “home church.” Paul usually writes to address an issue, but the occasion of his letter to the Ephesians is not apparent, and the content addresses general, rather than specific, issues.

This has led some scholars to conclude that Paul didn’t write Ephesians. However, it may be instead that he wasn’t writing a letter in the usual sense. Ephesians may be an encyclical letter, that is, a sermon wrapped in a letter and intended to be read and passed around from church to church.

Thus, we should expect it to be different because a sermon is a kind of speech and should conform to the style for speeches of the day. The fourth-century philosopher Aristotle identified three kinds of speeches: deliberative, to impel the audience to action; forensic, to prove or disprove a proposition; and epideictic, to praise what is good and disavow what is not.* Ephesians fits that last category nicely.

Ephesians breaks into halves: Chapters 1–3 describe salvation history from a heaven-down perspective, and chapters 4–6 describe how the revelation of these cosmic “mysteries” should inform the way that believers live, from the ground up. The halves correspond to the address in 1:1. Salvation, like Paul’s apostleship, is “by the will of God” (chapters 1–3), which leads to “saints who are … faithful in Christ Jesus” (chapters 4–6).

By the Will of God
Commentators often remark on the repetition and long sentences in the first half of Ephesians. This, too, is in accordance with Aristotle’s recommendation:

“As flute-players begin by playing whatever they can execute skillfully and attach it to the key-note, so also in epideictic speeches … the speaker should say at once whatever he likes, give the key-note and then attach the main subject.”

Ephesians 1 is a eulogy, or a “good word,” in this case about God, and the “key-note” is variations on the same root: εὐλογητός (eulogētos), “blessed, praiseworthy”; εὐλογέω (eulogeō), “to praise, to bless”; and εὐλογία (eulogia), “blessing, gift.” Paul skillfully lavishes praise on the entire Trinity: Praise God the Father for the gift of Jesus Christ (1:3–12), which is sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13–14). In so doing, he grounds all that follows in the good character of God.

In Ephesians 2 Paul riffs on the theme of salvation as seen from the outside and from above. Salvation in Christ is a free gift given to sinners by the will of God, by his own means, and for his own ends (2:1–10). From salvation in the general sense, Paul then focuses on salvation of the Gentiles specifically (2:11–22).

Ephesians 3 zooms in on Paul’s personal salvation and then wraps up the first half of the sermon with a doxology, a formal expression of praise ascribing glory to God.

Saints Who Are Faithful
The first half of Ephesians traces the subject of salvation from the greater and more general (God’s grand design, 1:3–22) to the lesser and more specific (Paul, “the very least of all the saints,” 3:8). From here, Paul turns the sermon inward, inviting each listener to consider how to apply these truths, to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1).

It’s debatable whether Ephesians 4–6 are epideictic or deliberative rhetoric, since praising good morals and scorning wickedness (epideictic) can easily cross the line into an exhortation to do good and to avoid wickedness (deliberative). These chapters proceed from Paul’s appeal to unity (4:1–16) and an individual focus on the new life in Christ (4:17–5:21), to how that new life manifests in the family and the household (5:22–6:9).

The ending of a speech should summarize what came before and leave the listener with something memorable and clear. In the “Armor of God” section (6:10–20), Paul reframes the second half’s call to everyday righteous living as part of the cosmic conflict hinted at in the beginning, reminding the listener that even seemingly mundane acts have eternal consequence. Ephesians is the “Think globally, act locally” of its day: Paul takes the abstract theology of the first half and puts it into concrete terms in the second, with simple and clear steps that the listener can take to join the conflict.

Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

* Aristotle, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Translated by J. H. Freese., ed. J. H. Freese, vol. 22 (Medford, MA: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann Ltd., 1926), 1358b.

** Aristotle, Aristotle in 23 Volumes, Translated by J. H. Freese., ed. J. H. Freese, vol. 22 (Medford, MA: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann Ltd., 1926), 1414b.

Eli T. Evans is a husband, father, software designer, writer, and student of the Bible.

Eli T. Evans is a husband, father, software designer, writer, and student of the Bible.