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. Mark 12:30
In our passage before us today, we have the Lord’s reply to a scribe who came to him and asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment of all. This was not your ordinary scribe who was trying to catch the Lord up in His words, or to trap Him or to snare Him. As if you could do that anyway. It’s God Himself who is speaking. There is no trapping Him or tripping Him up!!
But this particular scribe was really searching for the truth. And he even says to the Lord two verses later, “And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
But I want to bring your attention a little closer to just what the scribe said when he repeated the verse. Did you notice that the Lord used the four words: heart, soul, mind, and strength? But the scribe used the three words: heart, understanding, and strength.
There are a couple of interesting things here. The first being that Jesus is quoting this verse from Deut. 6:5, and nowhere in that Deut. 6:5 verse will you find the word “strength.” Jesus read out of the Septuagint along with the original Hebrew scrolls. And He knew that in either translation, the word “strength” was not in there.
I personally think this was picked up somewhere down the line in their teachings, because another man (not Jesus) in Luke 10:27 said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…”
The other interesting thing is that the scribe in the Mark 12 account recognizes that “soul” & “mind” are synonymous with “understanding.” In the scribes mind, the words that Jesus just quoted meant “understanding” to him.
And he was right. Because the soul and the mind is where the seat of understanding resides.
Please bear with me as we wade through the technical stuff. But the technical stuff is necessary because the Holy Spirit is trying to bring out important points. And how does any good orator, teacher, mentor, or speaker bring their points across? Through words. Words shape, words form, and words build. What do they build? An image in your mind.
When you hear someone say that they live in a beautiful house on the coast of Hawaii and they describe the house to you, and they tell you of the sand and the blue ocean water…a mental picture of this forms in your mind; and you could almost actually see it. The more detail you receive, the more vivid the picture.
In the book “A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul” (taken from Zig Ziglar’s 1975 best-seller “See You at the Top”) there is a story about a Viet Nam vet who loved to play golf, but was never any good at it. When he was a POW in Viet Nam for seven years, he would play a game of golf every day in his mind. He would picture every hole, every fairway, every bunker, and every green. He imagined his golf swing in his mind and he taught himself (in his mind) to have a better golf swing. When he was rescued and brought home, he was sent to a rehab to recover from his ordeal. Then he went and played golf. And to his amazement he was an exceptional player.
The mind is so powerful…and the understanding is so powerful, that I don’t think we realize the potential of it yet. The Lord brought 17,500 main species of animals before Adam in an afternoon and Adam was able to look at that animal and understand all the intricacies and functions of that animal and then name it off in a moment of time. If it took him six hours, then that is one animal every 1.25 seconds!! Can you even conceive the mental acuity of our first parents?
Adam was able to understand everything about that animal in a moment of time…and then name it accordingly. We also in like manner should have God’s Word in front of us so that our understanding of who God is to us is in its proper perspective. Ray Comfort posted a Facebook post recently that went like this: “My dad beat me, he left home all the time and my mom had to clean and cook, and one time I saw him kill an animal with his bare hands. With that image in your mind you would think that Ray’s dad was a tyrant. But see, you only have part of the information. The rest of the information is that Ray’s dad would give him a spanking if he needed it, he left the house every day to go to work to provide for his family, and Ray’s mom was able to stay at home and be a housewife and raise the children. And the animal that Ray’s dad killed was a hawk that had been hit by another driver and was in pain and Ray’s dad did the merciful thing to the hawk by killing it so that it wouldn’t have to suffer.
Do you see what having all of the right information does in your mind? It paints a totally different picture. The Bible is the “rest of the information” on who God is, and how He operates and if people would just love Him with that understanding, then their world would change, and their circumstances would change…because their mind and their opinion of God has been changed.
So then, just how do we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? Please notice that it all starts with the heart. And Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” It all begins with you giving your whole heart to God. The heart is the seedbed for the rest of what God wants to do in you. Genesis is the seedbed for the whole bible, Exodus – Jude reveals the growth and maturity of everything planted in Genesis, and Revelation is the harvest.
It’s the same way with your heart. It all begins right there…and the harvest of it all is eternal life. You will not love God fully, nor will you know Him fully until the heart is fully given over to Him. Paul wrote that he knew God. The bible talks about others who knew God. How could these people really “know” God? Look at Moses’ prayer in Exodus 33 very carefully and you will notice something: “Lord, teach me Your ways that I might know You.”
Moses understood that in order to know God, he had to first understand the ways of God. And how does this come about? Through God’s Word!! A thousand times over…through God’s Word!!
Did you notice the second part of that Proverbs 23:26 verse? It says, “…and let your eyes observe my ways.” You will not be able to observe His ways unless you have first given Him your heart. And notice that it says “let your eyes observe my ways.” How do your eyes observe the way of anything? By looking at it. A heart surgeon has more than just a bunch of medical school lectures on how to perform heart surgeries. He has hands on experience next to a more experienced heart surgeon where he intently observes every detail of what is going on.
If you will give your heart to God, and keep His ways (which is His Word) before your eyes, then your way will be prosperous in every way. Because to love God with all your heart means that you’ve given all your heart to Him, and you are observing (by your obedience to) His Word.
Loving the Lord with all your soul means that all your affections are set on Christ. Your love is not divided – your interests are not divided. Your feelings towards Him are deep and loving. He said in John 14 that if your really loved Him, then you would keep His commandments. He said in John 15 that if your really loved Him, then you would abide in His Word. Abiding in HIs Word doesn’t just mean that you’re reading the Bible all the time; it means that you’re abiding. You’re living out the fruit of what you read, believe, and obey.
Loving the Lord with all your mind means that your mind is clean and holy before God. It is free of filth and worldliness and of all the other stuff that can clutter or occupy it. In the book of Romans the Bible talks about the mind being set on spiritual things. What you allow in your mind and what you meditate on will be the harvest of what you receive. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So we can see from this verse that the heart is connected to the mind, because the heart can think also. Remember when the Lord said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”
But I would like to submit to you something different than you may have heard or been taught. Before I share it, I will qualify it with another portion of scripture to set the stage for what I want to say. Please notice in these Daniel 3:17-18 verses something very profound: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Most read this portion of scripture like this: “If God doesn’t deliver us out of the fire, then we will still not serve your image.” But this doesn’t even make sense, does it? If they burn up in the fire, then they won’t even have the chance to not worship the image that the king had set up. This is not what is being conveyed here at all. What the three Hebrew children are saying is this: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us…but if not… This “but if not” is not talking about God maybe not saving them, it is talking about if the king changes his mind and does not throw them into the fiery furnace, that they are still not going to bow and worship his image that he has set up. Look at the two verses carefully and you will see that this is true. Otherwise they would not have added the phrase “that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. How could they not serve the king’s god or worship the image if they were dead?
So it’s all in how we read it. And if people would read the Bible more carefully, they would notice things like this. In the same way if we look at the “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” verse carefully, you may notice something. The translators have added the grammar. And in many, many instances they were wrong in where they put commas and capital letters, etc. I personally feel this is one of those instances. I think it should read, “As a man thinketh, in his heart so is he.” The mind affects the heart. What you dwell upon, think upon, and meditate upon will go to your heart. The heart is like a thermostat. It just obeys whatever it has been set to…cold or hot. Whatever you program in it is what you’ll get out of it. The heart obeys whatever it is given. Do a study of the word “heart” in Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy and you will notice that their hearts were led away how? By their thought life and what they allowed themselves to believe. The mind affects the heart positively or negatively. The heart is the control center for the heating/cooling unit, and the mind is the dial that you personally turn to your desired setting.
Now remember at the beginning of this article I mentioned that the word “strength” is actually not part of the original verse that Jesus is quoting from. Why did He add the word “strength” here, but yet leave it out in His Matthew 22:37 statement?
Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37). This one is quoted by the Lord exactly as it is in Deut. 6:5
The word “strength” in the Greek means “to the extent of one’s ability.” So then, the Lord is saying that with all of your ability, reasoning, thinking faculties, emotions, and affection you are to love the Father that much. This is very powerful if you will just consider it for a moment. Folks, this takes a lot of time, resources, commitment, and deep searching’s of heart to love Him this way. But it is a command; it is not a suggestion…”You SHALL love the Lord thy God with all…”
Loving God four times over
Loving Him with all your heart
Every feeling, and affection
Giving Him the tenderest part
Loving Christ four times over
Loving Him with all your soul
Not holding on to secret things
Yielding to His full control
Loving the Spirit four times over
Loving Him with all your mind
Letting go of weights and sins
And all the ties that try and bind
Loving Them four times over
Loving Them with all your strength
Drawing Them in ever closer
Not keeping Them at arms-length