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Summary: Let's look at the first of the great commandments, loving God.

Before we get into the topic of loving God deeply, let’s do a little housekeeping. Mark 12:30 seems to add a word, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Where does the extra word come from? When the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek in the Septuagint version that Jesus often quoted, the translators understood that broad one-word concepts in Hebrew were sometimes much better explained with two words in Greek, which may have had narrower meanings. It’s just being thorough in translation.

Why do we often have plaques of the Ten Commandments on our walls, but not so often a plaque with these two Great Commandments? Is it because even as Christians we are still more oriented towards the letter of the law than the Spirit of the law? So, does an understanding of the Spirit of the law begin with knowing that some commandments outside of the ten, are actually more important, because they summarize the Spirit of the law, the whole law and the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures? Let’s look deeper.

Heart

Matthew 22:36 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart”

How do we love God with our heart? Jesus taught a lot about the heart. Those with pure hearts are happy (Matthew 5:8). Where our treasure is spent indicates the condition of our hearts (Matthew 6:21). What’s in our hearts comes out in what we say (Matthew 12:34). A good heart produces good things (Matthew 12:35). Hard, calloused hearts cannot understand Jesus’ word (Matthew 13:15). We can honor God with our lips even if our hearts are far from Him (Matthew 15:8).

Where does a heart of love for God come from? In Romans 2:29 Paul explains to us that, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Even the Old Testament taught that it is our hearts that need to be circumcised, changed by the Holy Spirit. We don’t even have the capacity for that, but we can ask God to give us a change of heart.

Soul

Matthew 22:36 “You shall love the Lord your God with… all your soul”

The word soul is an often misunderstood word in English, because it inadequately translates various Hebrew and Greek words and causes confusion. In this particular passage the Greek word is psyché and means a whole lot of things not always associated with the word soul in English. In this context according to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, it means the seat of the feelings, desires, and affections.

What are our affections and desires? We can test that out with a quick quiz. When it is time for a church meeting do we look forward to being with the Body of Christ? Do we realize that under normal circumstances, we are only IN the church when we attend church? After all, church means those called out to a meeting. It is not the building. So, unless we are sick or elderly, or have some other legitimate reason for our absence, we are not in the church when we are alone.

Some claim exclusivity to what is the Church, and that only their church is the church of God, and that only their doors are the way to salvation. But that kind of bigotry is quickly dismissed by Jesus.

John 10:7-9 “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture… I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

Instead of forbidding other denominations, Jesus had a different word to say about the topic. Bigotry between Christian churches is simply not a Christian option.

John 9:38-41 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. “For he who is not against us is for us. “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.

Rather than worry about what others are doing, do we love God with all our feelings, desires, and affections? Do love God with all our souls? Do we want to hear God’s word expounded or would we rather hear a motivational speech, a man’s word, which passes as an excuse for a real sermon? Do we follow the example of the Bereans and study the Bible daily on our own, to make sure what we are hearing is so? Do we spend time in private conversation with God? Do we find greater joy in the assembly of our God than at a sports game or a movie?

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