How Do I Love God With All My Heart, Soul and Mind?
In Matthew chapter 22 we read where Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was in the scripture.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Matthew 22: 36 – 38 [ESV]
That is a plain and obvious answer from Jesus. But many have suggested they wished Jesus would have answered how we are to do that, since it is obviously so important. But I think Jesus did answer the how part as well.
Jewish Rabbis – which included people such as Jesus and the Apostle Paul – often taught their students in a way where they would make a statement, the students then were expected to ask themselves a question about how to fulfill the statement and the teacher (usually without the question every having been verbalized) would answer the implicit question. For an example of this look at Paul’s writing in Philippians
do not be anxious about anything… Philippians 4: 6a [ESV]
Such a statement by a Jewish teacher would prompt the students to ask “but how is it that we overcome our anxieties so that we can obey this rule”? Anticipating that question, Paul answers it in the next verse.
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6 – 7 [ESV]
Paul tells us as Christians we are not to be anxious and – using the teaching style with which he is most familiar – then tells us that we eliminate anxieties in our lives by praying about them with an explicitly thankful heart for the good things in our lives.
And I believe Jesus did the same thing when He answered the man’s question about loving God. After making such a statement it would have been natural for the Jewish students to ask “but how, Sir, do we love God with all out heart”? And Jesus responded with what He referred to as the second greatest commandment.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 36 – 40 [ESV]
In giving the second greatest commandment, it is almost a certainty that Jesus was, at least in part, answering the question related to how we would fulfill the first. When we think about the teaching of the sheep and the goats (in Matthew chapter 25 verses 31 – 46), the argument for this gets even stronger. In that parable, Jesus says that during judgement he will tell some people they provided for Him when He needed help. But those people are confused, not remembering when they had had a chance to help Jesus directly. He corrects them with this phrase:
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25: 40 [ESV]
How do I love God with all my heart, soul and mind? Certainly, I should worship Him, serve in His church, etc. But perhaps the first and best way to love God is to love my neighbor as myself! When I love and serve other people, it is as if I have done it to Christ Himself.
Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.