Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Proper Balance

Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ ” (Matthew 22:37 NLT)

Augustine said, “Love God, and do what you please.” That sounds like a dangerous statement. But really, if we love God as we ought to, then we will want to do the things that please God.

Interestingly, the Ten Commandments are divided into two sections. The first four commandments have to do with our relationship with God, while the final six deal with our relationship with others.

If we really love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, then we will not want to have another god before Him, worship an idol, or take His name in vain. And if we love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then we won’t want to steal from them, kill them, or covet something that belongs to them.

The idea is that if we can get this basic truth of loving God down, then everything else will find the proper place.

But what did Jesus mean when He said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NLT)?

It means that we are to love God with every part of our being. In the Hebrew mind, the heart spoke of the center, or core, of one’s being. Proverbs 4:23 warns us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT).

The word soul probably correlates more closely to our modern use of the word heart. It refers to the emotions. It’s the word Jesus used when He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38 NLT).

And loving God with your mind is the idea of moving ahead with energy and strength.

Putting it all together, genuine love for the Lord is an intelligent love, a feeling love, a willing love, and a serving love.

Some people love God with all their minds, but there’s no heart in it. They love to study. They love to be correct theologically. But there is no passion in their lives.

Some people love God with all their hearts, with passion and emotion, but they haven’t disciplined themselves to study God’s Word. Thus, they’re easily led astray.

We need our hearts, souls, and minds in play to love God as we ought to.

This is why, after Peter had denied the Lord, Jesus met with him by the Sea of Galilee and posed this question: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15 NLT).

Jesus could have asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you have faith in Me?” or “Simon, are you theologically correct?” or “Simon, are you obedient to Me?”

But Jesus didn’t ask Peter those questions. Instead, He asked, “Do you love Me?” And He asked this three times. Perhaps it was to correspond to Peter’s three denials of Him. Whatever the reason, Jesus asked, “Do you love Me?” because He knew that if Peter loved Him, all the other areas of life would be taken care of.

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