The Pharisees were no quitters. In their concern to maintain power and the status quo of the day, they constantly assaulted Christ. Every attempt to belittle the Lord Jesus had resulted in the Pharisees utter failure. Yet, their inability to walk away from spiritual debates with Christ led them to one more great exchange. The Pharisees brought forward a lawyer “to test” the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 22:35) In Jesus’ day, a “lawyer,” was another name for a “scribe” or expert in interpreting the Bible. The lawyer asked Jesus a simple question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt. 22:36 ESV)
In other words, of all the commandments in the Old Testament, which is most important? The Rabbis of Jesus’ day had estimated that there were 613 commandments in total. In ancient times, answering this question become a means of discerning what sort of rabbi one was dealing with. In Jesus’ day, there were famous answers to this question by rabbis who had lived only decades before Him. But how would Jesus answer this question?
Jesus first answered by quoting an excerpt from the book of Deuteronomy. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38 ESV; cf. Deut. 6:5). As creatures we are duty bound to love God just as a child is obligated to honor her parents. But how are we to accomplish this mandate to love? What does it look like? Jesus provided three spheres: heart, soul, and, mind.
The heart is properly understood as the seat of our passions or affections. Our hearts are like the conductor of a symphony guiding all the instruments under their charge. God desires all of our hearts; there is no room half-hearted disciples. When we do anything half-heartedly it means that we are hesitant, resilient, and uncertain as to whether or not it is worth pursuing. Half-hearted commitments are the worst sort because they give the appearance of devotion but in the end the foundation is cracked. God demands all of us, at every moment. When God’s people offer a fickle, half-hearted devotion towards Him, they are inevitably ensnared by the false objects of their adoration. How do you determine what someone is devoted to? All you need to do is ask them about their calendar, their credit card/bank statements, and their computer. Examine these things and you will learn what is most important to them.
In one of the most famous letters in the Bible, the exalted Lord Jesus warns the Church of Laodicea for being half-hearted, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16 ESV) If we are cold-hearted towards Christ, He will vomit us out; love is no secondary thing to God. It is not enough to give God an hour of your week, or a bit of your income, or even 99% of your life; it is an “all-or-nothing” necessity.
My friend are you holding back your heart from God today? Do you know that it will only lead to your ruin? Let us lift up our hearts unto the Lord, willingly and joyfully, giving them wholly unto Him. The remaining ideas of loving the Lord with the mind and soul are merely varied ways of expressing this same point. Will you render unto God that which is His? Love Him. Love Him fully. Love Him whole-heartedly.
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