“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Jesus, Matthew 22:37-38 (emphasis mine)
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart. Let’s break this down a bit and start by taking a look at the heart. Our hearts are the essence of who we are. This word “heart” comes from a Latin word denoting the centre of all physical and spiritual life. It represents our principles, beliefs, emotions, and more.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) explains the importance of our hearts by saying, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Everything we do, meaning our actions and words are merely a reflection of what is in our hearts. The Women's Evangelical Commentary states that the heart is the “control center, the seat of the will and of moral responsibility.” They also note that our heart may be different than how we appear to others; our hearts can be kept secret. Therefore, we must keep a close eye on our hearts. We also need to be careful that we don’t allow our emotions to rule our hearts. (See chapter 6 of Be Transformed by Scope Ministries for helpful information on emotions; I highly recommend checking it out for tools on how to keep emotions from controlling your life.)
So, now that we know what the heart is, how do we love the Lord our God will all of our heart?
The only way I am able to even begin to love the Lord my God with all of my heart is because of Him. Ezekiel 11 is a prophecy about how God will remove the heart of stone of the once scattered Israelites and give them a heart of flesh. We learn here that we cannot change our hearts on our own; we need His help. When that change occurs, we then have the desire to be obedient and follow after Christ.
Now, it is a daily decision we must make to chose to follow after Christ - a refining process in which our character, principles, beliefs, and emotions all begin to look more like Christ. I believe this is how we love the Lord our God with all of our hearts; we choose to do so because He has allowed us to and He has commanded us to. We don’t always do this perfectly. We live in a fallen world and we are sinful people. But, thank the Lord for His grace and mercy that meets us right where we are.
I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read the story of Martha and Mary. What a beautiful example the Lord has provided us with on how to love Him with all of our hearts! Martha loved God, but her expectations for the day and her emotions were blinding her from who desired her whole heart and was physically sitting in her living room...Christ! Has this happened to you? All too often I find that I have a heart distraction - something (ie. expectations, emotions) or someone (ie kids, husband, coworker, family member) is affecting where my focus is and how I respond. A heart distraction hinders me from loving God with all of my heart.
What is keeping you from loving the Lord your God with all of your heart? Are your emotions or other distractions controlling your heart? Or, is your heart, the essence of who you are, controlling them?
What steps can you take today to love God wholeheartedly?
Meet the Author!
Casey Yates is a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and speech-language pathologist. Casey loves all things Christmas, British historical fiction, walks, pie and coffee. Lots of coffee.