What Does it Mean to Love God with All Our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength?
We first need to know how God defines “love.” The Hebrew word is ahab and means to have affection for, desire, delight in, or be fond of. It implies an ardent inclination of the mind and a tenderness of affection, and denotes a strong emotional attachment for and a desire to be in the presence of the object of love.
The Greek word is agapaō, to have a preference for, or to wish well; to regard the welfare of. It is to take pleasure in; to prize it above other things; to be unwilling to abandon it or do without it; to welcome with desire; to long for.
We diminish the meaning of love when we view it as simply an emotion or feeling, and therefore subject to change. I may love someone because they are kind to me. If they stop being kind, I no longer love them, because my love was simply a positive feeling based on my current circumstances. Love is more than that; it is a decision of the will to act in light of a deep, abiding concern and affection for the object of our love.
When the Bible places “loving God” in the context of a command, it becomes the galvanizing force (strength) for not only how we feel about God (heart), but inspires our thoughts about Him (mind) and stimulates our desires for Him (soul). Loving God motivates our every decision and empowers our very lives.
Our heart is the center of our physical and spiritual life. It encompasses our passions, desires, affections. According to the Vines Expository Dictionary, the word “heart” came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and emotional elements. It includes emotions, reason, and will. Heart and soul are different words, but both represent the inner, immaterial part of man as separate from his physical body. The soul is literally the breath of life, which God breathed into man to make him a living being. Our mind is the faculty of understanding, what enables us to imagine and think and reason. Our strength is the ability, force or power we exert in loving God.
Each of these words (heart, soul, mind, strength) can be explored as to “how” we love God, but I think the collective meaning is the greater lesson. We are not to love God with only part of ourselves, but are to measure every thought, emotion, feeling, word, and action in light of our desire to please and honor Him. We are to pursue our love for Him in every aspect of daily life, with all that we are.
What does a wholehearted love for God look like? Here are four descriptions of the kind of love God wants from us, according to Scripture.
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