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What does it mean to love God with all your mind, heart and spirit?
Thank you so much for your important question, it is a fantastic question to ask. I believe that your question is referring to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37:
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."
Jesus calls this the first and great commandment, and then, when He has added "a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:38). He tells us that "on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:39), which gives us some indication of just how important this question really is.
Firstly let us define what it means to love someone as this is at the heart of our question. The concept of love that is spoken of here is very important too, the word for love in the Greek is a particular kind of love. It does not just mean some kind of transient feeling of affection or desire towards someone or something, but is far deeper than that. 'Agape' love is a self-giving love, and implies not just a desire or feeling, but a decision of the will to be committed to someone or something.
It is a love that endures even when times are difficult and feelings may not remain as they once were, and involves a total commitment on the part of the one who is loving another. This is the kind of love that God has for us, which will become very important for us later in this answer.
Jesus says that we should love God with all our heart, soul and mind, but what does this mean? An easy way to answer this is to say that Jesus is clearly meaning that we love God with everything that we are. Both the heart and soul especially have to do with the very centre of our lives as human beings - they are where our life springs from, and therefore there should not be an area of our lives that isn’t touched by this command. We are to commit everything to God, and bring everything under His control, giving ourselves to Him entirely for the rest of our lives.
More specifically, there are a number of areas covered by these three words - they imply that we should love God with all of the following:
- our Desires - conforming our desires to those which will please and honour God
- our Affections - that we love those things that God loves
- our Purposes - that we pursue those things that God would have us pursue
- our Will - that we choose that which is good in our lives
- our Feelings - that we subject our feelings to the truth of God’s Word
- our Character - that we pursue holiness, godliness, and purity
- and lastly our Thoughts - that we meditate on the truth of God’s Word, and live everyday in the light of it.
Does this seem like a tall order to you? Absolutely it should - this is the first and great commandment, and is the pinnacle of what it means to be a Christian! All through the Bible we’re shown that God isn’t after half-hearted disciples - people who will honour Him with some of their time, money and affection - God wants fully committed, cross-bearing people who will give absolutely everything for Him, and the truth is, He is worthy of just that. There is not a person in this world who is anywhere near worthy of this kind of commitment, but God is. He’s your Creator, Sustainer, Saviour and King - everything you have comes from Him, and He simply wants you to give back what He has first given to you.
Before you leave this answer potentially discouraged because there’s no way you could ever fulfil this commandment, let’s look at a couple of truths that will help us along this road of total commitment.
Firstly, when speaking in a similar way to this on the idea of being totally committed disciples of His, Jesus says these words:
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:24-25)
This is the promise that Jesus gives to those who will lay down their lives, and love Him with everything they have - He says it is the only path to true life. If we ignore the call of God to love Him with all we are, then all we are doing is trying to find life in the things of this world, and ultimately these things will never satisfy - they will never give us the real life we desire. The things of the world can seem to satisfy for a time, but then will fade, and ultimately if these are where our hope lies then Jesus says we will end up losing our lives. However, if we lay down our lives for Him, He, as the source of all life will give us the real, satisfying, joy-filled life that we all crave. It won’t be easy along the way, but this is the end of all those who truly trust and follow the Lord Jesus - not as just some part-time religion, but as a way of life.
Secondly, let me point out this one small verse in the book of 1 John that is an amazing help to us as we seek to love God with everything. It says simply this:
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
What does this mean for us? Well it means this: God has not called us to conjure up this life-consuming love for Him out of thin air. It isn’t primarily a test of our will-power as to whether we can achieve this level of love for God.
Our love for God is primarily a response to the incomparable love that God has shown us in His Son Jesus. As Jesus died on a Roman cross, paying the penalty for our sins, there was literally nothing more that He could give us - there is no greater love than a man laying down his life for his friends.
This is of course the essence of the Gospel message - though we were far from God, sinners and His enemies, though we were completely unworthy of God’s love and acceptance, He chose to send Jesus into this world to give Himself for us. It’s as we come to recognise more and more just how great the love of God for us really is that we are enabled to love Him in return.
So as I close, if you have a great desire to love God with all that you are, with heart, soul and mind, let me urge you not just to try harder but to soak yourself in the love of God for you. Remind yourself daily of the amazing sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as you do so, may He by the power of the Holy Spirit, empower you to lay down your life for Him as He laid down His life for you.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Romans 12:1-2
- Luke 9:23-27
- Ephesians 3:14-21
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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