34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
What we learn about the Pharisees here was why they question the question they asked, the motive behind their question. What we discover is that they were not really interested in discovering God’s will but in picking apart God’s Word. Jesus could have just dismissed them and yet He answered their question by boiling down God’s commandments and reminding them that it’s about relationships not rules: Love God and love people. The greatest thing a person can do in this life is to love outside of ourselves and that journey begins with a pursuit to love God. This is not a casual convenient love but a fully giving yourself over to, a total love commitment. Pursuing a relationship of love with God and others means pursuing what is a priority and when we do that most everything else will fall into place.
One of the greatest struggles to loving God is understanding that it is about relationship rather than rules. The Pharisees missed the Lord because of legalism which always focuses on following laws instead of following and imitating God. They had taken the 10 commandments and the first 5 books of the Bible and came up with over 600 rules and regulations that they determined had to be followed in order to please God. This was compounded in that they couldn’t determine which of the laws were the most important to follow. Today many people look at God as being solely concerned with keeping rules and regulations and they miss the relationship. When this happens the rules and regulations become the focal point of our faith not the Redeemer of our Faith. Where is your focus, on the rules or the relationship, on the regulations or the Redeemer? Some may say but what about all the rules in His Word don’t you love His Word? Yes but don’t miss what Jesus was saying, we are called to love the author that the Word points us to. So what does it mean to love God with all of our being? Jesus breaks our being down into three areas, heart, soul and mind to remind us to relate to God and love Him with all three. We all tend to lean toward one aspect more than another and could fall short in the others but in order for our love to be complete we must love with all three.
The heart is the source of our thoughts words and deeds and there is a connection to what we believe and how we behave. Scripture talks a lot about words and deeds and our lives have to be consistent, our talk has to match our walk. Love is not just a feeling but an action, a tangible deed that we share in a visible and practical way. It isn’t just about trying to get high on experiences but simply serving and loving God. The danger is when we focus on the serving instead of the Savior, it is easy to allow the ministry to become our Messiah.
The soul is the center of our emotions and the trend in our culture today is to check our minds at the door because we are told that God is to be experienced and we don’t need to rationalize Him. We live in a feeling society where people say they love the Lord but don’t want to understand Him. For many, theology is dry and cold and today it is even considered ungodly because it doesn’t allow us to feel God. The danger in this is that truth becomes relative, what is true for me may vary with what is true for you. We create an “I’ll live my faith out in the way that feels right for me” environment. This is the heart but no head Christian.
The mind is our intellectual thinking center along with our disposition and attitudes. In reaction to emotionalism and the empty-headed faith of others we can focus on the mind. We rationalize that the more we learn about God the deeper our relationship will become. We say we will know exactly how we are to live out our lives with no guessing or feelings involved. The danger is that it can become legalistic, cold, fact oriented rather than relationally oriented. We can reduce faith to facts believing that if we teach people about God they will believe in Him as a matter of logic.
Is there one aspect that you tend to lean to more than another? Is there an aspect that you fall short in? Do you have a complete love?
So you may be asking what does loving God with your ALL really look like? Not so you can have a repetitive model but a relational guide line. In Luke 7:36-38 we see an incredible picture of loving God:
“Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.”
This woman didn’t come to receive a blessing she came to be a blessing and show her true devotion and passion for Jesus, she loved Him. She came knowing that she would probably be ridiculed by the Pharisees and others who were present, yet she took a risk and poured out all that she had upon Jesus. Love does not focus on what others think or say. Love is willing to take a risk no matter what it costs. Passion flows from a heart that is consumed with love for Jesus. The reality of a love for God is that it must find a way to be released in His presence. Are you loving God today?