“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
There is a huge battle going on that we each must personally face every day. We can easily think that our greatest challenge is a bad marriage, a wayward child, or a boring job. But the greatest battle we face is with our own heart. Every day we are tempted to not love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Interferences and the cares of this world can take a great toll on our relationship with God. But the truth is that we cannot work right unless we have the proper focus. We are designed to love God with all of our heart.
God wants the first commandment to be established in our life in first place.
To find the greatest joy in this life, loving God with all our heart should be our life mission statement. God will do everything to bring us to the place of putting Him first. He is so committed to helping us grow in love. He will take away all our options so that we move forward in our relationship with Himself. We often misinterpret His leadership in our lives because we don’t understand what He is after. He is removing all the clutter in order to get at the core of our lives – an extravagant love relationship with Himself. He is orchestrating our lives for greatness.
God will permit these interferences in life in order to teach us about His love. I’ve gone through a number of these earth-shaking experiences. Perhaps you have too. One was when I had breast cancer many years ago. Another was when I fell down the stairs and broke my heel and wrist, and was laid up for months. It can be a number of things: a broken marriage, a lost job, misunderstandings, but whatever it is, God is seeking our attention and focus. He can take these most difficult things and channel them into His greatest blessings, if we handle them right.
We wonder why these things happen to us. There can be many reasons and causes, but in all of them God is getting at our heart. My earth-shaking trials brought about great changes in my life as I saw what was most important in life.
Loving and living for God must be our top priority.
Our natural tendency is to focus on gaining more blessing on our circumstances whether in money, comfort, influence, or honor. We are so often locked into our circumstances, thinking if everything works out right, we will experience the greatest fulfillment. This is how we often interpret life. But that just doesn’t work because this life will never fulfill us.
The thrill and joy of a new house or car only lasts a short time. Soon there are repairs and breakdowns that we never anticipated, and we end up complaining about that which we thought would bring lasting ecstasy. We look forward to a long-awaited week’s vacation, but a few weeks later we forget about how we saved endlessly for a mere week away. Soon we are exhausted again and running the race of everyday life.
The first and greatest commandment is to love God (Matthew 22:38). It has the greatest impact on God’s heart and on our heart. It is the greatest calling. Jesus defines loving God as being the primary response He wants from us. He made us for a deep relationship with Himself. When we die we won’t bring our money, houses, or facebook “likes” and social media with us. But we will bring our growth in love and how much we love God and people.
Living Out the First and Greatest Commandment
“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27).
How do we make loving God our primary dream and ambition in this life?
- Loving God with all our heart – Intentionally determine and enthusiastically set your love on God by determining that the primary dream of your life is to pursue living the first commandment. David, the man after God’s own heart, set His heart to love God (Psalm 18:1).
“Lord, help me to set my heart to love and pursue You wholeheartedly as my primary dream and greatest ambition in life.”
- Loving God with all our mind – Fill your mind with things that inspire you to love God and not things that take you away from Him. Take time to fill your mind with His Word rather than violent movies and lustful temptations (Job 31:1). What we do with our mind affects our ability to receive and express love.
“Lord, help me to fill my mind with Your Word and with those things that inspire love, so that I can freely receive Your love and express it fully.”
- Loving God with all our strength – We express love for God in how we use our strength and resources of time, money, energy, talents, words, and influence. God takes great delight in the small things we do that invest our strength in ways that express love for Him and help others to love Him. He loves when we serve, give, pray, and bless others.
“Lord, help me use my strength and resources of money, energy, talents, and influence in ways that express my love for you and help others to love you more.”
- Loving God with all our soul – We express love for God with our soul when we exert our energy to realign our heart to center our relationship on Him, rather than on recognition or accomplishments. When our identity and primary success are in being ones who love God and are loved by Him, we are loving Him with all our soul.
“Lord, help me to exert my energy to realign my heart towards my relationship with You, rather than my accomplishments or recognition from others. Help me to love you and others with all my strength.”
An old man visiting London for the first time went into a great picture gallery. As he looked around, he saw a wonderful painting of Jesus hanging on the cross. He stopped to gaze at the picture with such great love for the one hanging on the cross. Love flooded his heart and all he could say was, “I love Him! I love Him!” Others heard this old man’s words and could see tears streaming down his cheeks as he stood before the picture, hat in hand, captivated by the love of God. Soon a stranger drew near him and grasped his hand, saying: “I love Him, too, brother.” A third steppe forward saying: “So do I.” Then a fourth and fifth stood before the picture, and then a whole group of people, perfect strangers, were drawn by the love of Jesus. (Gospel Herald)
This old man knew His greatest calling in life and had learned the most important lesson. He loved God with all his heart, mind, strength, and soul. There is no greater joy than loving God and then helping others to love Him too. Nothing will satisfy us long-term except God Himself, and all the other blessings will flow from loving Him. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to make us a man or woman after His heart. His love makes it all possible. Life makes sense when we have this priority and learn to abide in His love.
Here is a 3 1/2 minute prayer and to help you love God with all your heart in worship called: A Prayer for a Lifestyle of Worship. This is part of the Intercessors Arise International School of Prayer.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love”(John 15:9).“
By Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC)