Matthew 22:35-38 “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.”
The heart is the chief organ of the body for physical life. The heart came to stand for the center of man’s mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional. To love God with all your heart is to love God from the very center of your being. From your heart you speak; from your heart you act (Matthew 15:16-20). Therefore, love for God should fill your heart and motivate everything that you do.
The soul is the natural life of the body; it is the immaterial, invisible part of a person. To love God with all your soul implies that you love Him with all of your life. It means living for Him and possibly dying for Him. Your whole life is for Him.
The mind is the seat of your intellect and does the thinking. It is where you choose to believe. It is where you accept what God has revealed as truth. It is where you make decisions. Loving God with all your mind would include that you choose to submit to Him; you choose to thank Him for His blessings; you choose to meditate on his laws and principles; you choose to do and say and think what He asks you to do and say and think.
In parallel scriptures in Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27 it is added to love God with all your strength. I believe this implies that you use all your powers that you have in service to God. It could be mental or physical or spiritual strength that you have; you give them all for your love for God. It is not a partial love. It is a giving of all you have, all of your strength kind of love.
It is not always easy to distinguish between the heart, soul and mind. There seems to be overlap and interconnection between them. But I don’t believe distinguishing between them is important. To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength leaves no room for anything else. It implies that you love God with your whole being. This is what God asks from each of us.
How do you demonstrate your love for God? Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Jesus continued in John 14:23-24 “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” In other words, if you love Him, you will do what He asks you to do. When you choose to violate a command of God, it demonstrates a lack of love for God. 1 John 4:20-21 “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
Why do we love God? 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.” Look at some of the things that God has done for us in love. He created a wonderful universe for us that contains the heavens and a beautiful earth with rocks and plants and animals and people so marvelously made. He gave us everything that we need. He knew that we would be sinful so He made a plan of salvation in which He sent His Son to die for each of us to give us everlasting life. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” He has promised a wonderful eternal life if we love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
When I think of having great love for God, I think of King David. He demonstrated his love for God by his righteous life and by the psalms that he wrote about God. One day, David brought the ark of the Lord to the City of David. He sacrificed many oxen and fatted sheep. 2 Samuel 6:14 “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.” David truly loved God. And yet, there were times when David was selfish and disobeyed the commandments of the Lord. I’m thinking especially of the time when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and caused her husband to be killed. But God forgave David when he confessed his sin and repented. I suppose that none of us completely obeys the command to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. When we discover that we haven’t demonstrated love for God, like David, we should confess our sin and repent.
My encouragement to you is to love God because of the love He has for you. Let his grace teach you to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”