We’ve been studying, as a church, the greatest commandment from Mark 12:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“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.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:28-31
In the Sunday lessons, we’ve covered many aspects of this scripture outside of the four parts of ourselves that we are to love God with. Of those, the lessons have covered two – our hearts and our minds. Lessons on our soul and strength are yet to come.
Q – Looking at the things mentioned in verse 30, which if those do you feel is most important? Why?
An argument could likely be made for each of the four:
- Heart – Our heart is the essence of our devotion and consciousness.
- Soul – It represents our very being. It’s what will live on in heaven for eternity.
- Mind – Our intellect, our reasoning power. It can overcome the ups and downs of our emotional heart.
- Strength – It is with our strength, through prayer, study, charity, etc, that we act on the convictions of our heart and reasoning of our mind.
Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Some might be logical and find that makes it easy to give our mind to God, but hard to invest emotionally. Others find that hard work for God comes easy, but deep thinking and study is challenging.
In reality, the question was a bit of a trick. In my view, the most important thing mentioned in verse 30 is ‘all’. The point is that God wants all of us, period. No one aspect is more important than the others.
All of these aspects work together to draw us nearer to God as we practice them. Focusing on one over the others may actually not accomplish what God intended.
Q – Can you think of some ways that might that be?
- A focus on the heart might lead to an emotional, rollercoaster faith
- A focus on the mind may lead to a cold, legalistic faith. Bible worship instead of God worship.
- A focus on our strength may lead to a performance based faith where our worth to the Father is determined by our deeds.
- A focus on our soul is a little more challenging. Perhaps it may manifest itself in the ‘God created me like this, so it must be acceptable to him’ philosophy.
These aspects of our selves are intertwined and inseparable. God intended that we devote all of ourselves, every aspect of ourselves, to him. We must be careful to not let our preferences, our strengths or our weaknesses make our devotion to God one or two faceted.
Q – What areas do you find it easy and hard to give God all of? Why?
I feel as though God is teaching me this very lesson. I tend to be ruled by my thinking and reasoning and my emotions. (Perhaps a strange combination, but there you go.) I tend to give God all my heart and mind, but neglect my soul and strength. I tend to think about spiritual things quite a bit but neglect the actual spiritual work of Bible study, prayer, relationships.
Recently, I’ve felt him calling me to give all of my strength in these areas. A renewed call to study and pray – to give Him all of my strength as well. It’s a realization that the acting out of our faith is not just items on a check list, they are real spiritual activities. They work together with my emotions, mind and soul to draw me closer to God. They complete the work of my mind and heart.
In closing, I thought it would be good to turn this around and think about how God loves us.
Q – How would you describe God’s Love?
There’s a song by Matthew West called More (Windows Media clip on his website here) played on The River that just blows my mind each time I hear it. The lyrics are sung from God’s perspective:
I love you more than the sun
And the stars that I taught how to shine
You are mine and you shine for me too
I love you yesterday and today
And tomorrow I’ll say it again and again
I love you more
I don’t know of a verse that teaches that explicitly, although Jesus did say that we are worth more than many Sparrows.
What mountain, star, planet, galaxy, ocean or continent was made in God’s image?
What tree, flower, vine, weed or grass was given the emotions and reason of man?
What tiger, eagle, dinosaur, chimp, dolphin or whale did God send his son to Earth to die for?
Read those lyrics again and picture God speaking them to you. In my mind, God doesn’t speak, He simply observes. Every time I hear that song, I see him singing to me and it gives me chills.
God loves us with everything. He’s only asking the same from us in return.