If you pay attention to the news, then you are likely overwhelmed with the evil and tragedy in this world today. I know we are. Each time we hear of another earthquake, famine, tragic act of violence, or other painful event happening to mankind all around us, we wonder when all this will stop. When we will all live in harmony with one King? How long will this last? When will You come for Your bride, Jesus? There don’t appear to be breaks in the pain humans are experiencing anymore. We hardly have the time to fully grieve when yet another situation unfolds. Are you overwhelmed with the events unfolding before your very eyes? Do you fear? Or are you strategically handling each and every situation with delicacy and wise decisions?
In our modern age, you have a plethora of resources available by which to gain encouragement and guidance in your life as a Christian. If you are in a free country, then you have churches available to you either in person, by postal mail, or via the internet. In many cases, it is easier to get a meeting with a pastor than it is a much needed medical professional. If you live in an area with other Christians, hopefully you see enough of them on a daily basis to feel encouragement through them. With all the resources and people around us, much can be learned about Jesus, his love for us, his perfect gift, and God’s original and modified plan for our lives. With all the facts and knowledge we can gain from listening to wonderful teachers, counselors, educated peers, and ministry leaders, there is still one thing none of them will ever be able to do for us.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus states the greatest commandment is loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. But in Mark and Luke, it also mentions loving the Lord with all your strength: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30 With it’s mention missing in Matthew, one could easily overlook this, or interpret that it is not as important as the other three. However, being present in two other books, makes it as equally important. We’ve already looked at Loving The Lord With All Thy Heart, Loving The Lord With All Thy Soul, and Loving the Lord With All Thy Mind. Today, we finish off this important passage by examining loving the Lord with all thy strength.
When asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus answers “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30 What a detailed commandment. Is it possible to even love God in these four ways? Where does one start? We’ve covered loving the Lord with all your heart, and loving the Lord with all your soul. Next we’ll cover loving the Lord with all your Strength. But today, we’re focusing on loving the Lord with all your mind. What does that mean? How can we do that?
Previously, we covered the first part of the greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:30, love the Lord with all they heart. The second part of the greatest commandment that Jesus gives in Mark 12:30 is to love the Lord with all thy soul. When we specifically pull this out of the equation, what does that mean? How does one specifically love God with all their soul? How is it different from loving God with all their heart, mind, and strength?
Earlier this month we discussed Mark 12:30. It’s a verse that even those not well versed in the Bible likely are familiar with: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30 Many of us who love God believe we are doing so with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. But when we are really honest with ourselves, we find that we fall short in at least one area. Still others don’t really know what it looks like to love like this. This week we focus on one area, loving the Lord thy God with all thy heart.
Our Old Testaments are full of do’s and don’t-do’s. We know full well that since the fall of man, not one of us has been able to keep all the commands. We all mess up. We choose (according to which society we live in) which are easier to keep or harder to keep. We even hide behind man’s laws at times to convince ourselves we’re “not such a bad person” for sins that our society has long ago decided “aren’t so bad.” But when we are trying to follow all our loving Father has outlined for our lives, it can be overwhelming. Where do I start?
There’s this place that none of us like to be. But if we’re honestly admitting what’s best for us, then we know at some point, we needed to be there. It’s that place so pivotal in our lives that when we come through it, we either tell everyone about it or hide it away and keep it to ourselves. Which one we decide to do depends on the decisions we made while we were there. That ugly place. That place where we identify more with the author of Ecclesiastes than anyone else. The world is dark, our lives are dark, and everything seems hopeless. All is vain. In fact, vanity is the only concept that makes sense. I won’t ask you when you were there, or even how you got there. What I will ask you is, where are you now?
Life happens. Even to the best of us. Some days are wonderful. Everything goes our way. We receive affirmation that the meals we’ve planned are the best our family has ever had. The men in our lives remind us how beautiful we are. The bills are paid and there’s enough money in the bank to put a little more into the savings account. That dream vacation is getting closer and you’ve already got your vacation clothes picked out and packed (and of course they look great on you). These are the days that are easier for us to praise God. These are the days that are easier during family devotionals to spill our hearts about how great and how generous He is. When we say the grace before our meals we can do it with a spring in our voices and a smile on our faces. And our children take notice. But then there are days that aren’t so wonderful. And sometimes, these days turn into weeks, months, or even a year.
The leaders from your church have just announced that there is an upcoming womens retreat. You take a deep sigh, and a smile crosses your lips. What could be better than a couple days away from everyone and everything except God? Sure, you will miss your family–but you’ve already mastered getting them ready for your sabbatical. You are completely at peace the rest of the evening. After the children are in bed, you even curl up for some extra bible reading and worship time. In the morning you wake up excited. You spend the morning sending out text messages and making phone calls. Are you going? Are you going? I’m going! How about you? Between text messages, your phone rings. It’s one of your womens leaders. Are you planning to go? she asks. You can hardly contain your excitement–yes! I was hoping you would say that, she exclaims. You know I’m due that week–I need help and I need a back-up.