Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength
Recently I began reading through the book of Deuteronomy again. I remember going through it several years ago and being so amazed at its content. I thought it was another Old Testament law or genealogy book but instead found it to be saturated with amazing truths of who God is and how He feels about us and how that should change the way we live. And just this past fall I learned that Deuteronomy is a collection of the final words Moses wanted to leave with the Israelites before he died. It is a collection of sermons containing all the things Moses thought most important to say to his people before he left them to another leader. It is a pretty amazing charge.
In Deuteronomy 10:12, Moses instructs the people to fear the Lord, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve Him with all their heart and with all their soul. Deuteronomy 6:5 reads similarly, but adds the element of loving God with all their strength, and Matthew 22:37 which adds the element of loving God with all your mind. And Luke 10:27 mentions all of these.
Now I am the first to admit I am not a Bible scholar, not in the slightest. But, that being said, I thought it was important to think about why God wanted to include these four aspects of loving Him, and how we can use each aspect to specifically love Him well.
When I think of loving God with all my heart, I think of loving with all sincerity and without pretense. Loving God with all my heart is coming before Him in pure worship, without thinking about making it look a certain way to those around me. Loving God with all my heart is the opposite of what the Pharisees did, the religious leaders of Jesus's day who appeared holy and righteous on the outside but were, in fact, quite impure in their heart motivations. I want to come before the Lord in worship and love with all sincerity and with all purity and with all intention of having my outside be a reflection of the true worship happening within.
Key verses: Deuteronomy 10:16-17, Matthew 23:25
As I was thinking through loving God with all of these specific elements of my life, it struck me that the soul is the single element of these four that will be with us into eternity. Our hearts, minds, and strength are all part of our earthly bodies, ones that will be replaced by new and glorious and perfect hearts, minds, and strengths when we receive our new bodies in Heaven. But the soul remains. And so loving God with all your soul means loving God with the eternal part of me, the essence of what allows me to experience God's salvation through Jesus Christ. Once in heaven and in God's presence, my soul will forever sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighy!" Here on earth, my soul should reflect that love and adoration as well.
Key verses: Philippians 3:20-21, Revelation 4:8
The enemy of our souls often makes the attack by way of our minds. Our minds are weak and feeble and so prone to wandering into places where they should not go. Loving God with all my mind means keeping my thoughts fixed on what is good and true. It means renewing my mind daily, measuring my wayward thoughts against the truth of God’s holy word. And it means taking my thoughts captive, putting them into submission under what I know to be thoughts that would be pleasing the Lord, not allowing my mind to wander into the cruel or critical or futile territory it so often tends toward.
Key verses: Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:8
Loving God with all my strength could also be interpreted as loving God with all my will. It means giving this God-honoring, Christ-centered, Spirit-led life my very best effort. It means pushing forward valiantly with all intention of doing this Christian life well and, when I fall, being committed to brushing the dust off my knees and trying again. And all of this within the context of knowing full well that it is not by my own strength that anything is accomplished but rather, the strength and power of the Spirit working through me despite my weakness. Because I can do nothing in my own strength alone.
Key verses: Romans 8:11, 2 Corinthians 12:9
Friends, what does the Lord require of us but to fear Him by walking in all of His ways, to love Him, and to worship Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? May it be so today.
Father, we know that in You we have everything we need to love You well, to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Please give us eyes to recognize the power that lives in us to love You well and choose your light and truth and power when we are so tempted to rely on ourselves to do life. May we be hearts and souls and minds and wills committed to You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
On the podcast:
Released 2/13: Intentionality series with episodes on intentionally standing in the gap, intentionality with finances, and intentionally living in the small moments of life.
Releasing 3/6: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, with Mo Isom
On my bookshelf:
Cold Tangerines, by Shauna Neiquist
In my earbuds:
Journeywomen Podcast, Episode 37, Intimacy with Kim Vollendorf