Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Matthew 22:34-40 "The Greatest Commandment, Part 1"

Read Matthew 22:34-40.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." NIV
Did you really think I'd skip over this passage? Of course not! These few sentences are the heart of all our Christian walk and purpose on this earth; so they are getting two posts.

Today I just want to address the loving God part. Actually, I could use 3 posts to cover heart, soul and mind; four if using Mark's version that includes strength. But I'll try to do it all in one.

This passage says that we are to love God with our entire being. He covers it in each of the parts that we are made of -- heart - emotions; soul - spirit; mind - intellect; and strength is physical body. In every area of our life, we are to live it in love to Him. How do we do that?

Heart: Where do we place our passions and priorities -- our time? Are they in activities that serve Him or serve ourselves? Scripture says that our words come out of our heart. Are my words reflecting a heart devoted to God or do they fall short? If they are not glorifying Him, why not? What in my life have I not surrendered to Him that is controlling my passions? I want my heart to be completely devoted to God and that will be shown by the words I speak and the activities I choose to invest my time in.

Soul: This is our spiritual side; the part that makes me the person that I am. My soul encompasses my personality and God-given gifts. This is the only part of me that will continue on after my body is dead and gone. It's what makes me the individual that God designed me to be. Am I loving Him back with what He gave me to be me? Do I allow my personality to reflect the personality of Christ or do I allow the enemy and sin to distort what God created? Am I using the gifts He placed within me for His glory? I don't have to be in full-time career ministry to minister. My gifts were designed to be used in any job I take so He will be glorified.

Mind: My intellect. What am I filling my mind with? Do I fill it with Truth and Thanksgiving or with lies and the filth of the world? What I read, listen to, and watch will affect my mind and determine if it is turned towards God or towards earthly passions. Another aspect of loving God through surrendering the mind is by not retaining pride in my intellect. Too often we try to figure things out on our own. We rely on education and reasoning skills and don't rely on God's leading and power in our life. That is pride -- the opposite of surrender. In following and loving God with our mind, we must follow the instructions of Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Lord, help me to guard what I put into my mind and to use it only to glorify You through surrender and trust.

Strength: My physical body and it's actions. This one is closely tied with the heart -- my actions and where I spend my time. Am I wasting my strength on things that either are of the world and against what God teaches, or just plain laziness? Or am I working diligently for Him and His purposes? Unfortunately for some, loving God with physical strength means even to death for Him. The Persecuted Church is very real in many countries. To this point, the U.S. has been spared, but our day could be coming. Will I love God with all my physical strength when my faith is put to the test? God, let it be so.

God doesn't command us to love Him on Sunday or in those times that I open my Bible or go to an occasional spiritual retreat. I am to love Him with my whole being all of the time. That is full devotion. It is not just for the church leaders or a special few to follow. He calls all of us to full devotion to Him and His purposes with our entire being.

Lord, if there is any area in my life that is not completely devoted to You, please reveal it to me so I can surrender it to You. I want every part of my being to glorify You and You alone.

Further Thoughts:
  1. This is a very short synopsis of this verse. Do further studies in the Scriptures and commentaries on the heart, soul, mind, and strength and all they encompass.
  2. Does God demand full devotion? Support your answer with Scripture.
  3. Examine your own life. In each of these areas, how are you doing? Remember, not that every activity in our life must be centered around something spiritual. For example, working out at the gym. How can I love God with my workout? I'm taking care of the body that He gave me to use for His glory -- keeping it healthy. I can develop relationships with others in the gym -- relationships that may possibly lead to salvations. I can simply show the love of Christ to others while I am in the gym through my actions and attitude. Even in sweaty workout clothes, I can be Christ with skin on to someone who needs to see Jesus.
  4. Make a list of your activities and how you can love God through them.
  5. Are there areas in your life that you are not loving God? If you aren't sure, ask Him to reveal them. Then change them. You can choose to live in full devotion. Choose this day who you will serve and then do it with everything you've got.

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