I have been doing some thinking about what it means to love the Lord my God with all my heart, my mind, my soul and my strength. During my morning rides, I have been pondering on what it means to love, and also what it means to fully love Him. One thing I realized is that loving God is not a feeling. Love, in and of itself is not a feeling at all. Loving God is no different. Love is something we do. Love is in the choices we make to prefer someone else’s well being above our own. Love is choosing to prefer someone over ourselves. Since that is what love means, then to love the Lord our God means that we choose Him above everything and everyone, even our own selves. Loving the Lord our God is a decision we make to choose Him before we choose ourselves.
“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.”
Matthew 12:30 ESV
Matthew 12:30 ESV
If you were to ask about any Christian what this verse said, I am pretty sure that all of us could recite it off the top of our heads. We memorize it, we talk about it and we share it, but do we actually understand what it means? Do we honestly live it? If we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts then we will make the choice to prefer Him in our hearts above anyone and anything else- even our children and even our spouses. The heart is the seat of our passions, our desires, our wants and our dreams. It is where the purposes and desires for a destiny come from. When we love the Lord with all our hearts we are choosing to prefer His desires over ours. We are choosing to wait for His dreams instead of running ahead and chasing our own. It also means that we choose His purposes for our lives over our own. We prefer His will. We can say in every situation, with a peaceful contentment that we prefer His will, not our wills.
This verse also teaches us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our souls. Our souls are the place where our feelings come from. Hope and despair, happiness, sadness, joy, pain, sorrow, they all derive from our souls. When we love the Lord our God with all our souls we make a choice to prefer Him even above what we are feeling at the moment. We are sad, but we choose to take comfort in Him. We may be angry, but we choose to forgive in Him. We may be tired, but we choose to rest in Him. We make a commitment to choose Him no matter what we are feeling.
We also learn in this verse that we are to love the Lord our God with all our minds. Our minds are the wheelhouse of our thoughts; our understanding, our capacity for learning and for thinking all derive from within our minds. When we love the Lord our God with all our minds we are making a decision to prefer His thoughts over our own. We choose His ways instead of our ways. We make a commitment to love Him, honor Him and glorify Him in every facet of our beings. How can we know God’s thoughts? We read His Word.
This sounds all great and wonderful, doesn’t it? But let’s be realistic, how in the world can we ever fully and completely prefer the Lord our God all the time, in every single aspect of our lives? We think a lot, we feel a lot, we desire a lot. As I was thinking about this scripture verse I thought about a day planner. You remember the ones you had back in school with the hours listed within each day. Every day was a new day with new assignments, projects, and things to do. If you wrote in pen it was set in stone, there was no erasing it away. The hours were assigned; each one had a class or a project, a place to be. Sometimes the hours were the same, sometimes they were different- it just depended on the day.
Our days are no different than that day planner. Every single person on the planet is given twenty four hours to live, move and breathe. We have hours we work, hours we eat, hours we play, hours we schedule, hours we sleep. Each hour is set in stone. So what if we applied this hourly principle to the scripture we have been discussing. What if we made a commitment, setting it in stone that for one hour we will choose to honor God in our hearts today? What if we make a commitment to lay aside our hopes and dreams for one hour and seek out His hopes and dreams? What if for one hour a day we stop focusing on what we want and ask the Lord what He wants? In one hour we would have fully and completely loved the Lord our God with all our hearts.
What if we then committed the next hour to putting aside the hurt, the pain, the sorrow and the unforgiveness and chose instead to honor Him and to be comforted by Him. What if for one hour we chose not to react to what we were feeling, but instead choose to lean on Him and His word? If we made these choices, then we would have spent two hours of our day loving the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls. But why stop there? What if we then chose to love Him in our thoughts? What if we make the decision to think about Him, His word, and His thoughts towards us for one hour? What if we preferred His word over our thoughts? Now, we have gone three hours loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls and even all our minds, and we will have chosen Him over and over again.
Loving God is not an emotion or a feeling. We do not feel the Lord, we love the Lord. Love is choosing Him above everyone and everything else, and choosing Him above our own selves. All this is possible because the last part of this verse tells us that it is. We are to choose the Lord with all our strength. Within each of us is the ability to love the Lord our God in every facet of our lives. Within us lives the strength and the desire to choose Him. We just have to make the conscience decision to do it and draw from the strength of God that lives in each one of us. We are the ones who choose whether or not to love the Lord our God, we are the ones who choose Him or do not choose Him. Within us all is the ability to put Him and to prefer Him over every single thing, every single desire, every single thought, and every single feeling we have every single hour of the day. We just have to make the choice to love the Lord our God with all our hours. Amen.