“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:30
We all have priorities, don’t we? As Christians, we are taught from a young age to “put God first” in our lives. We are taught to invest our energy and time in the things that matter most, like our relationship with God, with family, and with other people. And while this is indeed great wisdom, often times the semantics of “put God first” can lead to a works-based, weary and discouraged life for believers.
Jesus did not say to “put God first” in Mark 12:30. He said to love God, “with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” God is not another item on a long list of daily priorities, according to Scripture. He is not merely of supreme importance in our lives – He is our life. He is to be the center of all that we do, say, think, believe, and feel. He is the hub of life’s wheel around which all other priorities revolve like spokes.
This is an important distinction. There is a great difference in putting Christ at the top of a perpetual list, and Him being the list. It helps to understand what the words heart, soul, mind and strength mean in the original language of the New Testament: 1) heart: the center of all physical and spiritual life, the inmost part of a person; 2) soul: the seat of feelings, desires and affections; 3) mind: the faculty of understanding and the way of thinking and feeling; and 4) strength: one’s ability, force and might.
The commandment that is of utmost importance, Jesus says, is that we love God fully and completely with every part of who we are. We are to love Him from our core all the way out. He determines what we feel, desire, and have affection for. He controls the way we think and how we understand things. He is the source of our abilities, force and might. He is not a priority. He is much more than that, and cannot be compared to anything else in life. This is what it means to love God.
Dear God, I know that I have been guilty of ranking You on my life’s to-do list. Please forgive me for equating You with daily duties. You are so much more than that. I truly desire to love You the way You deserve to be loved – with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength. Only You can enable me to love like that. Please continue to work in my life and change my heart. Deepen my love and devotion to You. Thank You for saving me from my sins and giving me abundant life in Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.