Loving God With Your Mind
Matthew 22:34-40: - "But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.' "
The challenge of this article to my readers (and to myself) is to devote our minds to the character and service of God. While we often emphasize heart and soul, generally we do not emphasize the words about loving with the mind. The challenge to love God is actually a call to experience a high and holy ambition and to greatly enrich our spirit. The fundamental reasons we love God are: 1) His infinite excellence--His nature--His character, and 2) His record of goodness shown to humankind in creation (His "own image"), providence, and redemption through Jesus. The revelation in the Bible is a "wonderful story of love"!
Our ability to think, to reason, and to know is unique to human beings. The average brain when developed weighs about 3 pounds. The brain contains about 12 billion cells, each of which is connected to 10,000 other brain cells, totaling 120 trillion brain connectors. Man's intelligence has enabled him to extend his visual perception through telescopes, x-rays, microscopes, etc. Audible perception can be extended in various ways and mental capabilities are extended through computers/"artificial intelligence". Our brains function both involuntarily (controlling heart beat, etc.) and voluntarily. While there is little we can do to control involuntary brain action apart from good physical and mental nutrition, there is much we can do to voluntarily control our minds. We can choose to love God with our mind!
Three times in the Bible the matter of loving God with the mind receives special attention. The original declination was given in Deuteronomy 6:4,5 - "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."
The Israelites are assembled on the plains of Moab (today: the country of Jordan) to hear the law. The recent past experiences of the people have been sad. Their parents had died in the wilderness. They have been engaged in war to obtain the eastern part of the promised land. Their leader will soon die. They may have wondered if God really loves them. Moses commands them to "love God with all your heart, soul, and strength". In Mark 12:28 Jesus quotes this statement and includes what is obvious in the command of Moses: "with all your mind". These words of Moses in Deuteronomy are immediately followed with instructions to teach God's will and God's ways to their children and to future generations.
A second declaration about loving God with our mind is recorded in Luke 10:25-27 - "And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?' So he answered and said, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' "
Jesus told the lawyer: "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." The lawyer in his mind knew the answer to eternal life! Loving God is a deliberate choice which each of us can make. We can choose to believe in God and to serve Him. We "set our mind" and determine that we will love Him!
The third occasion where this fundamental principle of loving God with our mind was when Jesus was asked about the "great" commandment. In Matthew 22:34-40 - "But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.' "
Jesus had been subjected to intense questioning about His teaching. Questions were asked about paying taxes to Caesar, the resurrection, and now, about which was the great commandment. Jesus said to love God with all the mind. The scribe's reaction: This is more important that "all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark's parallel account in Mark 12:28-34). Jesus told the scribe that he was "not far from the kingdom of God."
Love for God is a voluntary action. It is a choice we make: Love God or love the world. In 1 John 2:15-17, we are challenged: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."
Our love for God will affect our emotions. Someone has said, "The mind is to emotions what food is to our body." Our feelings are not just spontaneous but are produced by what we put into our minds. Likewise, our will is determined by what we decide to do!
If we love God with our mind we will marvel at His character and attributes, we will desire to glorify Him, and we will recognize and respond to His love and goodness to us through Christ. Finally, we will have an intense desire to be near the One whom we love. Prayer, Bible study, meditation, worship and association with others who love Him will naturally follow!