I was rocking back and forth in my chair with my eyes closed as I was listening to the last song on my favorite worship cassette. (yeah, it was in the 90’s) I had been singing to the Lord and praising Him for almost an hour and His presence filled the room. The tape ended and I was smiling from the inside out as I enjoyed the sweet silence and communion with my Father. Tears of joy were running down my cheeks and my heart was so full of emotion that I wasn’t quite sure how to express it.
With eyes still closed and the tears now flowing I said, “Lord I love you so much.” He then spoke to my heart very distinctly, “How much do you love me, Jack?” I quickly replied, “I love you with all my heart, Lord”. He said “Jack that is not enough”.
My eyes popped open and I realized that God was trying to show me something. When God asks a question, He is obviously not looking for information. He then brought to my remembrance this passage:
Mark 12:30 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
I saw instantly that loving God with all my heart was only one-fourth of the love commandment. One fourth…25%! I thought to myself, “Man that is weak.” I began to consider what it might mean to love the Lord with my mind and my soul, and how to love Him with strength and realized that I really wasn’t sure. I asked the Lord to teach me how to love Him with these other parts of my being and He began to open my eyes and show me what true love really is.
After the Lord’s correction on how I loved Him, I began to pray and ask questions. “How do I love you with my mind and soul Lord”? I realized that the first thing to do was to define love as the bible teaches it so I took some time and really solidified what love is in my understanding. Immediately I began to see that my ignorance and the church’s ignorance on this topic was glaringly obvious.
Without going in to exhaustive word studies, I will just rely on the printed text. You see it is very simple. God is love.
1 John 4:8 ~ He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.
We see in Romans that He has put inside us everything we need to properly respond to Him with love. He has put His own nature, His character, the essence of His being inside us, giving us every opportunity and every necessary tool to connect with Him in intimate relationship.
This love He has placed inside us has many qualities and characteristics, which is expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter”. But you will notice that the chief characteristic of love is giving.
Love is not merely a feeling or an emotion, although it will produce both. Love is a commitment of devotion that is directed by our will. Love is an action word. Not just a noun but also a verb. Love does, love doesn’t just say. Love invests. Love thinks of giving first before any thought of receiving.
So now we must realize that to love God with the mind, soul, and strength, we have to figure out how to give those parts of ourselves to Him. This is a long teaching so I will just leave you with a few thoughts to get the gears turning in your mind. You will be able to figure out the rest.
I find it interesting the soul and mind are separated in the text. I was always taught that the soul was the seat of the mind, will, and emotions, yet here they are separate. Here are the words as defined in the original text:
1) the heart ~ (kardia)
Denotes the centre and seat of spiritual life, the middle or central or inmost part of anything, even though inanimate.
2) the soul ~ (psychē)
The seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions. The (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aides offered it by God it can attain its highest end, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life. The soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death.
3) Mind ~ (dianoia)
The mind as a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring, understanding, way of thinking and feeling. Thoughts, either good or bad.
4) Strength ~ (ischys)
Abilities, talents, gifting, force, strength, might.
Love is a 4 part harmony, and when all four parts are expressed in fullness, we begin to understand more of who God really is…..and more of who we are.
Since the greatest expression of love is to give, ask yourself this:
Am I giving all of these aspects of my life to God? Am I withholding parts of my life from Him? God has placed the incorruptible seed of His love in your heart.(Romans 5:5)
If we would nurture, water, and feed this love, the harvest of God’s character being expressed through our life will begin to spring up everywhere.