What Does It Mean To Love God With All Our Heart, Soul, and Mind?

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By Eric Chabot, CJFM Midwest Representative  

In Mark 12.28-34 we find a scribe asking Jesus a serious question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus replied by saying, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus then added a second commandment (from Leviticus 19.18) when he said, “The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here we see the Shema is the central creed for Jesus! Jesus is quoting from Deut. 6:4-9:

 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

“Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad.” These six words begin the Shema (pronounced “shmah”), three sections of Scripture repeated twice daily to remind each Jewish person of his or her commitment to God (Deuteronomy 6: 4– 9; 11: 13–21; Numbers 15: 37– 41).

In the Tanakh (the acronym that is formed from the first three parts of  the Hebrew Bible: Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Nevi’ im (the  Prophets), and K’ tuvim (the Writings), the Hebrew word for heart is  “leb,” or “lebad.” While the word “heart” is  used as a metaphor to describe the physical organ, from a biblical  standpoint, it is also the center or defining element of the entire  person. It can be seen as the seat of the person’s intellectual, emotional,  affective, and volitional life. In the New Testament, the word “heart”  (Gr.kardia) came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the  rational and the emotional elements. Therefore, biblical faith involves a  commitment of the whole person.

In the Shema, hearing is directly related to taking heed and taking action with what you’ve heard. And if you don’t act, you’ve never heard. Hence, in Deut. : 6: 4-9, we see who our God is and how we should respond to him. It should be a holistic commitment towards him. We love our God with our emotions, our actions, our entire beings (including our minds).  

When we come to faith, God goes to work on redeeming the entire person. And this is also related to how we are created in God’s image.

Remember the following:   

1.The heart is the center of Moral Activity :The passage we always quote is,  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).”

2. The heart is related to Emotional Functions:  "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”- John 14: 1.

3. The heart functions as the conscience. After Peter's sermon the audience was "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37 ). David prays that God would create for him a pure heart to replace his defiled conscience (Psalm 51:10 ).

4. The heart is related to our wills: Finally, the heart plans, makes commitments, and decides:. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" (Proverbs 16:9 ).

 5. The heart is related to intellectual activity and thinking (Matthew 9:4):  Yeshua says to his audience, “ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” Yeshua says “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”- Matthew 15: 19-20.

Remember, Biblical faith is a holistic commitment to God. It is a commitment that calls for us to submit our mind, emotions, and will all to the glory of God.


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