“And he answered, ‘You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 (English Standard Version)
Raise your hand if you have heard this before? Every single reader should be raising his or her hand. Next, you should feel silly for sitting at your computer with your hand in the air. No shame, we have all done silly things before.
This verse is a command I have heard repeatedly throughout my life. Generally, things repeated often can easily become dry and lose impact on daily life. On occasion, however, old news can leap out and reach you in a new way. I encountered this almost as soon as I returned to Riverside from Thanksgiving break.
I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend once again as we swapped thoughts about homework, God and life. At one point in our conversation, I found myself quoting the aforementioned passage with regards to maintaining godly conduct on a college campus. As I spoke, the words dripping from my tongue tasted odd. I paused mid-sentence and stared down at my mug as I pondered the sensation.
“… Um, Aubs?” inquired my friend, snapping me back to reality.
“Sorry. I just realized something,” I replied as I began to talk myself through the idea that was forming in my brain. “I mean, I’ve known that verse since I was like four, but I never actually thought about the implications of it…”
This launched a new topic for us. I am always amazed at how a fact can reach a person’s head, but not always ring clear in the heart. As my friend and I pulled this verse apart, new insights were revealed as our drinks turned cold.
The main thing we noticed was the detailed nature of the commandment. Rather than simply stating “Love God,” the verse lists many ways to love God. This thorough fact led us to examine what these ways to love Him are and how they affect every Christian.
The first portion of the verse is love the Lord with “all your heart.” I read this as an inclusion of our emotions: the happiness, regret, disappointment, elation and everything in between. This part strikes a chord with me, because I have encountered times where I do not understand my own feelings. They can change at the drop of a hat and are so easily swayed between extremes. So how is it that we can love God with everything, good, bad and ugly in our heart? Maybe through a recognition that although our feelings change, God never will. Whatever mood we are in, God loves us anyway. We can turn this realization into praise.
Next is love the Lord with “all your soul.” When I think of the soul, I think of the deepest, most basic and defining aspect of our being. This is everything that we are — our hopes, dreams and all that makes us ourselves. The soul is our most private and vulnerable place from which to give and receive love. The fact that God created us with a soul is a marvel in itself, and He demands that we love Him with all of it. I read this as handing our ambitions to Him in order to serve Him with all that He gave us. We use our talents to give Him the honor rather than ourselves. Loving God with all your soul also requires a level of intimacy. It means letting Him into every corner of your being and allowing Him to shape you, whether it is comfortable or not.
Loving God with “all your strength” immediately causes me to think of physical health as well as endurance in showing affection. He gave us bodies to maintain so that we can use them as a means to advance His kingdom. I believe a part of loving Him with our strength includes physical health. Believe me, this is hard for everyone at times, especially when eating in the CBU cafeteria. That place has EVERYTHING you could ever hope to eat, including waffle machines. It is dangerous. While we can enjoy food, we should remember to honor our health and use it to serve our Creator and show persistent dedication to that cause.
And now for the last, and currently most convicting part of the verse. We are asked to love God “with all our mind.” We have all been given brains, and we should use them. I have been given an amazing opportunity to come to college and use my academic abilities to sharpen my skills and gain insight on how to use them. In order to love my God with my entire mind, I should keep Him at the center of my focus. I should learn all that I can while in school so that I can serve proficiently in a later career. If God gave me the ability to think and to learn, I should not waste it. This conviction should cause me and other students to pay more attention to assignments and strive to perform our best in each class.
Scripture is vastly important, and can affect us in various ways throughout life. Even though I knew this commandment for so long, it took years before I thought to analyze it over coffee and practice it in more precise ways.
I really hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For all the students out there encountering the fast-approaching end of another semester, keep your hopes up! It’ll be over soon, and this is just another opportunity to love our God in a new way.
Safe sailing, everybody.