Matthew 22:37 | ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
What’s the first thing you learned how to do as a kid? There are so many things I was taught and learned as a kid. I’m not sure I could pinpoint what the very first thing was, but I’m willing to bet I remember how to do it. In fact, at this point, it’s probably something that comes second nature. When we are first learning to do something, there are often stages of learning that we build upon as we go on. Crawl before you walk; walk before you run; run before you take office. You get the idea.
If you’ve ever played a sport, you may remember that the first week of practice never seemed to be about the sport you signed up for. It usually consisted of running. Running and drills. Only after those inaugural practices does the object of the sport get introduced. Throughout the season, no matter how good or bad the team does, one thing remains: running.
Beginning something new requires that we start with that which is foundational. Lay the foundation and build upon that. If the first and greatest commandment is to love God, I think it’s safe to say it is foundational to our relationship with Him, our life in Christ, and our service in ministry.
There are three spaces in which God tells us we should love Him: with all of our HEART, with all of our SOUL, and with all of our MIND.
Our hearts are the center of our being. In the biological sense, they are the engine that keeps us going. There are any number of organs in our bodies that could (God forbid) fail and we could continue physical life… so long as our heart is beating.
In another sense, our heart is what we’re made of. “She’s got heart!” “He’s got a good heart.” “You don’t know what’s in my heart.” All common phrases. Generally speaking, we know what these mean. The heart is the substance of a person.
It is common for us to refer to our hearts when it relates to love. This is by design—God’s design. Many of us have experienced heartbreak. You might be experiencing it right now. In this sense, it can be a little difficult to put into words and make someone else understand what if feels like for us to give someone our heart or to have it broken. Nonetheless, we all pretty much get it. That feeling. That weight. That heaviness. No matter the feeling—good or bad, we each know what the fullness of our heart feels like. That is how God wants us to love Him. With all of that!
Before we can do anything else in this relationship, we have to commit every beat of our heart, our total substance, and the fullness of our relational being to God.
The soul is that deep down place. The soul is the essence of who we are; the part that lives on. When our hearts stop beating, when the substance of our life is complete, when we cease to be able to enter into new relationships, our soul keeps going.
Some think of the soul as the spirit of a person. The soul is our very person itself! Our soul is not our body, it’s the part of us that exists beyond the body.
God wants us to love Him beyond our human living. If our hearts are the human part of us, our soul is our spirit.
Have you ever considered the separate parts of yourself that are the whole you?
This is my favorite part of this first and greatest commandment from God! Love God with all of your mind.
In Matthew, when Jesus answers the Pharisees who were challenging Him, He is quoting something they were already familiar with. This commandment comes from the Hebrew Law; the Torah—which is the first five books of the Bible. Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5.
Deuteronomy 6:5 | ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. ‘
You’ll notice that where Matthew’s Gospel says “mind,” the Law says “strength.” There are a few reasons I think Jesus said it the way He did; but that’s not my focus here. I’d like to use this space to challenge you to consider what our mind and our strength have in common.
The word used for “strength” in Deuteronomy comes from a word that means “muchness.” I like this word lol …it’s not a word I hear used really. It sounds like one of those words you make up when you don’t have all the other words you need, but the person you’re talking to gets it because it makes sense—even though you made it up.
The mind is our thought and our intellect; our strength is our muchness. It’s the “give-it-all-you-got-ness,” if you will. This is not strength in the physical sense. Consider that this is the strength of your mind; a made up mind.
Do you love God from that place? Is your mind made up to love God? Do you use all of your muchness to love God? That’s how He wants us to love Him.
Loving God is foundational.
It should be the first thing we learn to do. It should be the first thing we seek to do. Everything else we do should flow from our love for Him. Unlike running sprints and doing endless drills, loving God is what we signed up for! Every practice begins with it; every practice ends with it; every game is full of it. God created us to love us and have relationship with us. That means a relationship in which we love Him back.
In this vision for a church that God gave me, this is what He said He wants from it. This is the first part of our mission. Love God.
Love God with all of our heart.
Love God with all of our soul.
Love God with all of our mind.
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.