Today's verse is Mark 12:30: "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?" A teachable scribe, probably a Pharisee, approached Jesus to ask a question. He wasn't trying to trap him. He wanted to engage Jesus in a serious dialogue by asking him a question about the heart of the Jewish faith. He asked him which was the most important of all the commandments.
Jesus began by quoting from what's called the Shema ("Hear" in Hebrew), a quote beginning with Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." Jesus began his answer to the scribe by saying that God must be number one in our lives, above all other gods (see yesterday's blog).
Then he continued. He said we shall love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5.
I'm struck by the word "all" that permeates this verse. Jokingly, I sometimes say to the listeners at Forest Hill: "I looked up the word 'all" in the dictionary this week. Guess what it means? It means 'ALL!"
All means all! There's not much wiggle room here, is there?
God wants to occupy all rooms in our life's house. He wants all the territory we own in our lives. He doesn't want any area left to enemy occupation.
And what does God want "all" of? Look at the list:
1) He wants all of our hearts. The heart is the seat of our life's affections. God does not want to share our hearts with other lovers. When we do, Biblically, it's called spiritual adultery.
2) He wants all of our souls. The soul is who we are. It's our identity. God doesn't want us to find identity in our jobs, people, possessions, prestige or power. He wants us solely to find our identity in him and him alone.
3) He wants all of our minds. This is how we think. We are what we think. We become what we allow in our minds. Therefore, God wants us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). But this transformation cannot take place if our minds aren't totally fixed on him. Note too that this implies we are to have a thoughtful, intelligent faith. We are to know fully what and why we believe.
4) He wants all of our strength. Each one of us has been given a certain amount of daily energy. He wants that energy to be given to him. He wants it devoted totally to him. When we think about how much energy we give to things that have no eternal significance, it's frightening.
The question for us all is simply this one: Do we love God with ALL or ourselves? It's a question that deserves a serious inward examination.
Let's all be honest with our answer today!