Jewish tradition had developed 613 commands from the first five books of the Bible. The Jews asked Jesus in Matthew 22 and Mark 12 which of these was the first or greatest. “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:29-30). In the account in Matthew, He went on to say that whole Old Testament can be summed up in the commands to love God and love others. Jesus was actually quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 in His response, which was a part of what the Jews recited each morning and evening. God alone deserves our love, worship, and allegiance.
Love God for ALL That He Is
He is the One and Only! The first commandment answers atheism and polytheism. There are not many gods but only ONE true and living God. He is Yahweh (the English rendering is Jehovah). God is Creator of all life, and He is life. We love God because He is Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God. Notice in Mark, Jesus said to love YOUR God. The God who spoke the world into existence, the God who called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and changed Jacob to Israel, is the God who called YOU and changes YOU. He is personal and He alone is worthy.
Love God with ALL That You Are
Notice the word all is used four times. We are to love God with ALL that we are and ALL that we have. Worship is the response of all man is to all God is. The reason this command is repeated in Deuteronomy, Joshua, and in the Gospels, is because we are prone to wander. In the last days, the love of many will grow cold (Mt. 24:12). Loving God should not be out of duty but out of delight! Bible reading, prayer, serving, and worship should be out of loving God with ALL that you have. Why is it that if you jump, yell, and get excited at a ballgame they call you a fan, but if you get excited at church they call you a fanatic? We are to love God more than we love our sports teams! We are to love Him with our total being.
All Your Mind
Jesus added the word mind because He knew the battles starts in the mind. Mind speaks to our intelligence and thought life. John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” He wants to steal your understanding, kill your joy, and destroy God’s purpose for your life. There is a battle going on in the mind. If the devil can get you to think wrong, he can get you to do wrong. The number one area the devil works on is your thought life.
All Your Strength
Strength speaks to our body. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” We are to live fully for God. How we present our whole lives, spirit, soul, and body is an act of worship. The world worships the body. Christians worship God with our body. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
All Your Soul
“All your soul” means putting your personality under His control. Soul speaks of the personality sub-conscience, self-awareness, and feel. David worshipped God with his soul when he said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 41:11). It’s like the old hymn says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”
All Your Heart
Loving God with all your heart means giving Him your desires and affections. Heart speaks of the real you on the inside. We don’t want to just go through the motions. Jesus said they honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Mt. 15:8).
Pastor Sam Storms points out a beautiful analogy of how a man’s love for his wife gives insight into his love for his God:
1) Is the Lord the all-consuming passion of my life?
2) Do I have a deep and abiding affection for my Lord?
3) Am I loyal to my God with an exclusive love?
4) Do I resist and even oppose anything or anyone that seeks to do my Lord harm?
5) Am I zealous to defend my Lord’s name and honor?
6) Do I enjoy spending time with my Lord?
7) Do I do things that please my Lord and increase His joy?
8) Do I brag on my Lord to others?
9) Do I tell my Lord that I love him?
10) Do I talk with my Lord as much as I can?
Remember, these are not things you do to get God to love you. They are things you do because you are loved by Him. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10).
Are you loving God for all that He is with all that you are?