(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.)
The Lord Jesus said in Mark 12:30:
“And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.”
What does it mean to love the Lord from our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and our whole strength? Do we even have the ability to love Him with our whole being like this?
In this post, we’ll briefly discuss what it means to love God with our entire being using verses and notes from the New Testament Recovery Version.
The source of our love for God
We have to admit that although we love God to some extent, He’s not the only One we love, and sometimes He’s not the One we love the most. Many other things tug at our heart. So how can we obey the Lord’s command to love Him with all our heart?
The Lord is well aware that we aren’t capable of such love by ourselves. We need to realise that when God makes a demand, He intends to meet that demand for us. So in 1 John 4:19 we can see our love for God originates from God Himself:
“We love because He first loved us.”
Note 1 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version says:
“God first loved us in that He infused us with His love and generated within us the love with which we love Him and the brothers (vv. 20-21).”
God is the actual source of our love for Him. He loved us first, and He infused us with His love. To infuse means to fill, to pervade, even to soak. We’re being soaked with the love of God! Now the love of God in us is the love with which we can love Him in return.
Love isn’t merely a feeling. God is love. God loves us and became a man named Jesus Christ. He demonstrated His love for us to the uttermost by dying on the cross. No wonder when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, our hearts responded to His love, and we opened to receive Him as our Savior. From that day on, we began to love the Lord with the love He infused into us.
As we enjoy God’s love, we’ll love Him in return more and more.
Loving God from our whole heart
Loving the Lord with our whole being begins from our heart. In a previous post, we talked about what the heart is according to the Bible. We may think our heart is simply the seat of our emotions. But we can see from the Bible that it’s more than that.
Our emotion is a part of our heart, but our heart also includes our mind, will, and conscience. Our feelings, thoughts, decisions, and the sense of condemnation or guilt we feel when we’ve done something wrong all arise from our heart.
God is a loving God, and He created us with a heart so that we would love Him wholly and absolutely. But in our experience, we know our heart loves many other things besides God.
So what do we do? Simply trying not to love those things doesn’t work. But the apostle Paul wrote this reassuring word in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16:
“A veil lies on their heart; but whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
When our heart is turned away from the Lord and set on things such as sins, selfish preoccupations, and worldly pleasures, it has a veil on it. We can’t see the Lord.
But when we turn our heart to Him, the veil is removed, and we can see the Lord again. We see His beauty, His virtues, and how wonderful He is. Then He infuses more of what He is, including love, into us. In this way, our love for Him grows.
We can turn our hearts to the Lord Jesus at any time by praying to Him, calling on His name, confessing our sins to Him, and spending time in His Word. These simple practices can remove the veil from our heart, restore our fellowship with the Lord, and rekindle our love for Him.
Loving God from our whole soul
Our soul is composed of our mind, emotion, and will, and so it’s a large part of our heart. God created our soul so we could express Him, but because of mankind’s fall, we express ourselves. We have our own opinions, feelings, and decisions that are independent of God.
But when we turn our hearts to the Lord, our love for Him grows. As He infuses Himself into us, His thoughts become our thoughts, His feelings become our feelings, and His decisions become our decisions.
As He does His transforming work in us, we spontaneously begin to express God and glorify Him. Others will see Christ expressed in us as we love Him with our whole soul.
Loving God from our whole mind
Our mind is the leading part of our soul. It directs the rest of our being and influences what we love and what we choose. It can be set on many things. But God wants our mind to be set on the spirit, where Christ is.
Romans 8:6 says:
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”
When we set our mind on the flesh or fleshly things, we feel lifeless and uneasy because we’re turned away from Christ in our spirit. But when we set our mind on our spirit, we’re peaceful and full of life. By setting our mind on our spirit, our whole being is focused on God.
One way to set our mind on the spirit is to read the Bible. God’s Word reveals who Christ is to us. When we use our mind to read the Word, we see more of the Lord’s preciousness. For instance, when we read in the four Gospels about the kind of life the Lord Jesus lived, the words of life He spoke, and how He cared for all kinds of people, we’re filled with appreciation for Him. The more we consider Him, the more we love Him.
Loving God from our whole strength
Our whole strength refers to the physical strength of our body. When we turn our heart to the Lord and set our mind on Him, our body will follow.
As love for the Lord pervades our heart and soul, even the outward actions of our body will be affected. Our attitude toward the things that used to occupy our time, interest, and energy will also change. We love the Lord and want more of Him. So even our physical strength, that is, our time and energy, will be spent on pursuing Christ.
Loving God with our whole being starts today
To love God with our whole being is an exercise. We don’t always wake up in the morning with our heart inclined toward the Lord. But we can start the day by turning our hearts to our dear Lord Jesus. We can say, “Lord Jesus, I turn my heart to You this morning. I love You!” We can tell the Lord we love Him every single day.
We can also pray, “Lord Jesus, cause me to love You more today than I did yesterday. I want to love You with my whole being.” He will surely answer such a prayer.
To read more about our heart, we highly recommend chapter 8, “Dealing with the Heart and the Spirit” in The Economy of God. You can download this book for free here.
You can also read more notes on the verses quoted in this post in the New Testament Recovery Version, which you can get for free here if you live in Australia.