““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 12:29-30
Jesus was very clear here. He was repeating the words from Deuteronomy. I’ve read this dozens of times, but today the word ALL stuck out. It was like they are being highlighted for emphasis. Before I get to the weighty matter of what all means, let’s look at the four elements Jesus articulates.
Heart. When I think of heart I think of passion. I think of the thing or things that drive me, that compel me. “The team with the most heart often wins.” It is more than emotion, but emotion is part of it. Another analogy is if all our actions were a compass needle, our heart would be the point to which the compass needle consistently points.
Soul. I struggle with distinguishing this from the other three, but I realize it is place where my will resides. My soul is the center of my individuality and consciousness.
Mind. This is pretty easy, it is my cognitive, thinking self. It is the part of me that processes data, assesses information, and makes decisions. It is our intellect and the repository of all the data we have accumulated throughout our life.
Strength. My strength is the resulting development of all my actions to date. Much like a laborer muscled and toned from years of hard work, my strength is the capabilities I have now because of the life and actions I have taken.
So back to all. Does Jesus really mean ALL? And we are to LOVE with ALL. If we love God with all then there won’t be anything left over for others – a spouse, children, parents or siblings, will there? Well Jesus does say ALL and the heart, soul, mind, and strength pretty much encompasses everything about who we are. How can this be?
It gets back to the reality that God is our creator. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us on purpose, for a purpose. It is His desire for each person to fully fill their divinely ordained purpose. But our purpose can only be found when we are immersed in Him and when we are filled by Him – through the in-dwelling Holy Spirit.
By giving Him ALL of us, He is able to mold, shape, and transform us into exactly the person we are meant to be. In some cases it is a transformation of sin habits. At salvation the penalty for our sin is paid. Jesus paid it on the cross and we said yes to receive it at our salvation. We are washed clean by the blood of Jesus. But the flesh still remembers the old habits. Sanctification is the process of losing the old, bad habits and taking on new, good habits.
A life verse for me is Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse makes perfect sense when it is aligned with Jesus admonition. When God has our heart, soul, mind and strength, we cannot help but become aligned with His heart. When our heart aligns with His heart it will desire what He desires. When we desire what God desires, we become partners with Him is seeing these things come to be. In some cases we will be moved to missions, moved to serve sacrificially, moved to go and do the things we have been prepared to do with the totality of our life experiences and under God’s anointing. In all cases we will be moved to love more deeply and fully than we are able to without Him.
Another aspect of this is we will be moved to pray God’s prayers. Intercession is a high and holy calling. I’m not talking about reading through a list of names and asking God to bless family and friends. Intercession which emanates from God’s heart to our heart is a burden to pray for specific people and needs even to the point of travail. God wants to partner with us, to pray through us.
There is one final element of Jesus’ saying that needs emphasizing. The admonition begins with LOVE. Love is a game changer. We can serve. We can honor. We can follow. But none of these meet the standard of loving God. They each are manifestations of our love response, but love is deeper and richer than these alone. Love is the deep-seated acknowledgment that God is the wholly complete other to Whom our devotion, desire, and passion is aimed. 1 John 4:16 says this. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
To love God with All that we are is to enter fully into the life we were created for. Amazingly we find that our ability to love and do the things God calls us to do become the desires of our heart. He takes our attempts to love, pray, serve, work and, through His Spirit, accomplishes His good and perfect plan in us and in those He leads us to. As we walk the road of loving God with our All we will find that He reveals our All to be more than we knew or imagined. But it is only in losing ourselves in Him that He is able to do this great and wonderful work in us.
Purpose today to love God with your all and bask in the joy of knowing He first loves us and He will live fully in us as we abandon ourselves into His love.