Today I've been thinking about what it means to love God. I think it's on my mind because we're approaching Easter and I've been studying the death and resurrection of Christ in preparation for our church services. And as I've studied what Christ went through in the week leading up to His crucifixion, I keep thinking, “He must have loved God a lot.”
To be honest, this is an unusual thought for me. Typically, when I think of the crucifixion, I think of how much Jesus must have loved us - because He went through a lot for us. But for some reason, this time around, I keep thinking of how much He must have loved God because, after all, it was God He was being obedient to when He went up on that cross. Seems to me that's an order that would take a lot of love to carry out.
When I think about what Jesus did, and the love for God that it took, I end up asking myself if I'm good at loving God. It's something that I don't think about all that often because usually I'm busy asking myself if I'm good at being obedient to God. So this question got me intrigued - and it led me to Matthew 22:37, in which Jesus answers a question about what's the most important commandment. Here's what He says, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
It seems that, while obeying God is important, loving Him is even more so. And as Jesus answers the question, He also outlines for us three ways we need to be sure to love God. First of all, we're to love Him with all of our hearts. Now, it's important to understand that, in the biblical Hebrew culture, the word “heart” was used in this way to refer to the core of someone's being. So Jesus is telling us that loving God should be our foundation - it should define us.
Secondly, Jesus says we are to love God with all our souls. The word He uses for “soul” in this passage is the same word He uses when He cries out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34) So, Jesus tells us that loving God includes our emotions.
And then finally, Jesus tells us that we are to love God with all of our minds. This is an interesting one to me because I've always assumed it meant we needed to have a good academic, or factual understanding of God and His Word. But as I studied it, I discovered that, in the original language, this word actually carried more of a meaning of “might”. Which means it speaks more of energy and strength and determination.
So it seems that if we're going to love God well, then we need to love Him with every part of our lives. We need to love Him from the deepest part of our being. We need to love Him with our emotions. And we need to love Him with all of the strength we have.
Here's the challenge though - it seems to me that we tend to love God in the way we feel most comfortable. So some of us might love Him with all of our minds, but we're afraid to express emotion about Him. And then there are others of us who love God with great emotion, but it's an up and down roller coaster ride of emotion - and so there's not a determination to love when the emotion isn't there. And what God wants from us is balance. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being - and to do it with our hearts and our minds engaged.
So this week, as we prepare for Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior, let's ask God to help us love Him well. Pray with me that God will show us the areas in our lives where we're unbalanced in our love, and that He'll give us the desire and the ability to love Him the way He desires and deserves to be loved.