In Mark 12:29-30, when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded with this,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 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.”
But how do you do this? What does it look like?
Let’s think about where He was and to whom He was speaking at the time. This takes place as Jesus speaks at the Temple on Palm Sunday. He was teaching the Jews one last time before being crucified, raised triumphantly, and returned to God the Father in heaven.
To begin with, Jesus quotes an important commandment listed originally in Deuteronomy 6:4 called the “Shema.” This Hebrew word means hear and comes from the first few words in the commandment, “Hear, O Israel – ”
This has always been a significant commandment to the Jewish people. Many of the more pious sects of Judaism still quote this verse twice daily. They even physically lock the written phrase to their bodies in small boxes called phylacteries.
Verse 29 says that the Lord is One Lord. This is an interesting phrase from the beginning. Moses is alluding to the concept of the Trinity thousands of years before Christ had come. Also Jesus is affirming the idea that He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are One.
This squelches the notions that, in the first century, Christians were polytheists because they worshiped Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus goes on to say that His people are to love God.
In the Greek language there are four words that represent love. Eros would be a physical type of love. Philia would be a brotherly love. Storge is the love one has for his family.
Finally there is agape. This last and most important type of love is the love God has for His people. It is sacrificial, selfless and unconditional. Jesus is saying that man should love God like this, but that it should start with the heart.
For the Jewish person, the heart was the seat of all emotions, wishes, and desires. So if Jesus meant to sacrificially love God with your emotions and desires, what would that look like?
It could start with focusing your affections toward God. Man’s affections determine where his devotion is. Those who love God could also make Him their greatest treasure. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Philippians 3:8 reaffirms this with, “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”
You can tell what someone loves by what they spend their time and money on.
So, if you truly love God with all your heart – spend time with Him.
Do you tithe? It’s difficult love God if you don’t obey His command to give a tenth back to Him in supporting His work.
Next we’ll look at how one could love God with his soul, mind, and strength.