Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength
October 1999, Africa
Recently, I was speaking with Father about what it means to love Him. My discussion with Him was for me. But since the subject of what it means to love God from the heart has come up by the last song this brother began for us, I feel as if maybe I should tell you what He has tried to teach me recently. If it’s okay, I’d like to share with you what God has shown me about what it means to love Him.
I am sure we all know the greatest commandment. It makes sense to me that if we are going to disobey any commands, we wouldn’t start by disobeying the greatest command. Of course we would not want to disobey any commands, but the one that Jesus said is the greatest of all the commands certainly is worthy of much attention. When I asked Father what it means to really love Him, He reminded me of this greatest commandment, then He asked me to consider with Him what that commandment means. God said that we should love Him with all of our heart, we should love Him with all of our soul, we should love Him with all of our mind, and we should love Him with all of our strength. As we discussed together what each one of those things meant, I thought about them and wrote some of them down. I did this for myself, and my relationship with Him, but if you would like, I will tell you some of what we talked about.
All Our Hearts
When He said that we are to love Him with all of our heart, there are some specific things that He meant by that. He meant that all of our affections should be given first to Him. He wants no competition for the affections of our heart. So, if I choose to obey the command of loving Him with all of my heart, I must be very careful with my heart. I must make decisions about my heart. We all lean toward having affections for different things. Some people have affection for food. In some countries, this affection for food is very important to people. In the country of Italy, for example, they may smell the food and say, “Oo la la!!” They may have affection in their heart; they smell the food and love the smell of the food. God said, “I will not allow you to have affection and passion in your heart for food (this special kind of food and that special kind of food) and to say, `Isn’t this wonderful! Oh, this food is so perfect and it smells so good and tastes so good! This food looks so beautiful!’” God has said, “No! You must decide not to give away your affections to something foolish like food.” The Master said, “I want all of your affection for Me—none for food.” Food is good, but you must not give your heart to it.
In most countries, in most cultures, people don’t understand the Church, and the Church is not truly a Family. People give their hearts to their physical families. “Oh, this is my family!” Instead of giving their heart to what Jesus said about all of God’s people being my family, they have very special passion and they are very jealous for “my family, my family.” “These people have the same last name as me. These people look like me in some way—MY mom, MY dad, MY children.” They allow DNA, and flesh and blood, to prejudice them against the Truth of the Spirit of Christ and what REAL family is when we are truly born a SECOND time. What does Jesus say about this? “A HUNDRED mothers, brothers and sisters.” “Who ARE my mothers and brothers and sisters? Those that DO THE WILL OF GOD.” Some people, even some supposedly religious people, have hearts that are drawn toward their physical family in a way that blinds them to how GOD says we must feel and how we must live.
It certainly is good to care for our family. We must care for our physical family or we are worse than infidels, the Bible says. Surely we must love our wives, our husbands and children. But when my heart is passionate towards that and blind towards others, then it’s MY! MY! MY! This is a serious mistake. The apostle Paul wrote to us by the Holy Spirit, “Those that have wives should live as though they have none. Those that have possessions should live as those not possessed by them.” This is what the Scriptures teach us. He is not saying we should not love our wives and care for them, or not love our husbands and children and care for them. God said, “I am simply very jealous for the passion of your heart!” God said, “I want all of your heart! I want all of your passion! And then I will distribute amongst other people.” We must not own our physical families and be possessed by them blindly. Our hearts first and foremost belong to God—ALL of our hearts.
I have known people who have given part of their heart away to other foolish things. They just loooooove the mountains, looooove the clouds, looooove the water. They can stand by the seashore and watch the waves come in for hours and hours because they love to watch the water. God said, “I want you to appreciate My creation. I want you to thank Me for My Creation! But you must not give away your love and your passion to simply the created things.”
Some people have given away their hearts to nationalism. They are jealous for the country that they live in. If you watch a football game, or soccer or rugby on television, there are World Cup Games, one country against another country. In these large sporting events you can see people in the stadium crying because their team lost. Or many thousands of people are thrilled—they are happy when their team wins! God said, “NO! Your heart must belong to Me alone! You don’t give away your heart to foolish things. You can enjoy the game, you can even be happy when your team wins, but crying and great joy, that’s reserved for Me alone!”
The Lord has told me He wants all of my heart. When I start to feel those things come up in my heart, whether it’s for food or physical family or national sports or anything like that, I must decide to obey God and not give away part of my heart to something that belongs only to Him. He said, “I want all of your heart; I want all of your passion for Me alone.” That is a command, so I must decide to do that. When I feel my heart starting to go towards other things, I must decide to push it back and then to push it up for Him alone. It is a command and, therefore, a choice that I must make. I give my passion and my heart to Him alone.
All Our Souls
The next one is “all of my soul.” This means many things. It has much to do with the word “pride.” It has to do with the things I find my identity in. Who am I? Who do I think that I am? That is my soul. I’m prone to allow myself to take pride in the things that I accomplish.
I have done great things in business and I feel good about myself. I have done great things in sports and I feel good about myself. I look very pretty and I feel good about myself. I dress very well and I feel good about myself. I am very smart and I feel good about myself. I am very clever and I feel good about myself. I can make people laugh, I can tell stories—I feel good about myself. I am very good at raising my children, better than most people—I feel good about myself. I have a very good memory, better than most people’s memories—so I feel good about myself. I never give up; other people give up easily, but I am strong, and I never give up.
This is my soul and it is an ABOMINATION to God to allow these thoughts! You can probably think of many other thoughts like these. Do you remember when Lucifer was thrown out of heaven? If you read the passage in the Old Testament where Lucifer is thrown out of heaven, you hear Lucifer saying, ‘I, I, I, me, I, I”, many times. Lucifer was not thrown out of heaven because he killed another angel. Lucifer was not thrown out of heaven because he stole another angel’s goods. Lucifer was thrown out of heaven because he had an attitude. He thought about himself rather than about God.
He said, “I am beautiful. I will ascend to be like the Most High. I have the gift of music and I shine like many colorful gems and stones. I have a right to be noticed and to be important. I have the right for people to think about me and to pay attention to me because I am special. I am more spiritual than these other angels.”
God said, “I banish you forever from My Presence.” God said, “You must worship Me and love Me with ALL of your heart! You must control your soul so that you worship Me and love Me with ALL of your soul.”
The apostle Paul said, “I have very much to boast about, but I will boast in nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified to me.” He said, “I am the chief of sinners; I am the worst and the lowest of all the saints. I will boast in my weaknesses.” This was the apostle Paul, who was a very good man. But he made a decision that he would love the Lord his God with all of his heart, and he would love the Lord His God with all of his soul. He would take no pride in accomplishment or how he looked or how he spoke. This man had been caught up into the third heaven, into the very presence of God. Yet, he didn’t even want to talk about it. He said, “I know a man who, many years ago....” He didn’t boast, “I am the apostle Paul; I’ve even been caught up into heaven.” He was very humble to speak of such things. He did not want to draw attention to himself. He did not want to be a hero. He did not want to be exalted. Like John the Baptist, he wanted to decrease so that Jesus would increase.
Every time we draw attention to ourselves by thinking about ourselves, we are separating ourselves from God. Every time we make a decision to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, we are separating ourselves from God. Every time we judge others because we think of ourselves as being special in various ways, we are separating ourselves from God. God said, “I want you to love Me with all of your heart. All of your passions and all the things that are very special to you will be wrapped up in Me alone. And I want you to love Me with all of your soul. I want you to find all of your identity ONLY in my Son Jesus and His blood. Any gifts that I give you are only to be tools to serve Me better. You are not owners of these gifts of music or of intellect or memory or good looks or any of those things. You could be paralyzed in a bed by getting hit by a truck in a split second. You don’t deserve any gifts that God has given you. You must not take ownership of them.” We must have no pride or ambition about any of the good things that God has done in our lives. They are for Him and for Him alone.
When we build a house with our own hands and we come back to that house after being gone for the day, we must not walk around and say, “Oh, what good work I do! What a beautiful house I have built with my own hands! What a wonderful job I do raising my children!” We must never draw any energy to ourselves. All of our soul energy belongs to Jesus and His Father. “I want you to love Me with ALL of your heart and ALL of your soul.”
All Our Minds
Then I asked Father what He meant by, “I want you to love Me with all of your mind.” Certainly, these things overlap a little bit. But one thing that He showed me about loving Him with all of my mind is that every thought that comes into my mind presents me with a choice I must make. If I am going to love Him with all of my mind, then I must make decisions about every thought that comes into my mind. The scriptures, through the apostle Paul, say we must take every thought captive. We must cast down imaginations or thoughts that jump into our minds that are not true. God said, “Whatever is pure and lovely and noble, whatever is holy and worthy of praise, think about these kinds of things only.” Paul said, “We are transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Romans 8 says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit of God is life and peace.”
Have any of you ever had a thought of bitterness come into your mind? How about a thought of jealousy? How about a thought of anger? How about a thought of lust? How about a thought of pride? These are thoughts that present themselves before you. It’s as if a little man has walked up to your mind and said, “I want to introduce you to a thought.” We decide whether to bring that thought in and think about that thought or to reject it and say, “No! Go away!” This is taking every thought captive. Have you ever had a thought of depression or self-hatred? You can think to yourself, “I am a depressed person; I hate myself.” But that’s not a mind controlled by the Spirit. We must take every thought captive. When that little man walks up and presents his idea to our brain, if it is not a pure and lovely and noble and praiseworthy thought, we MUST reject that thought! God said, “I want your mind! I want you to love Me with all of your mind. You will permit no thoughts in your mind that are not My thoughts. You will be transfigured and transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We permit only pure and noble and praiseworthy thoughts into our brain. We cast down every other imagination. If we will do that, we will be transformed. If we replace these kinds of thoughts with the thoughts of the Words of God, we will be transformed.
All Our Strength
Each of us will make choices every day. We will choose where our affections go and whether we will love Him with all of our hearts. We will choose what our souls are allowed to do. Is my soul allowed to find identity in other things other than the blood of Jesus? Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live. Not I, but Christ lives in me.” Paul loved the Father with all of his soul. His only identity was in the cross of Jesus Christ. He meant nothing to himself apart from the cross of Jesus. So also with us. If we love Him with all of our minds, we will only permit the Word of God and the thoughts of God into our minds. We will not tolerate thoughts of depression or lust or fear. No! We push them back out of our minds. We will not permit thoughts of unforgiveness or bitterness or jealousy. We push them out of our minds. We will not live like the Gentiles in the futility of their thinking. But we will take every thought captive for the glory of God. We will love Him with all of our minds. We will spend our thinking on Him and not on other foolish things. We will love the Lord our God, not only with all of our heart (our passion), not only with all of our soul (our identity and our ambitions and plans), not only with all of our minds (every thought in our brain), but also with all of our strength.
Father showed me that our strength consists of many things. If we are going to love Him with all of our strength, then we must realize that our time belongs to Him. Our time is part of our strength. Our time is part of what we have in the physical world to accomplish things. We will allow Jesus, the love of our lives, to show us how to use our time for Him. We will not allow our time to be consumed with things that flow from love of self, rather than love of Jesus and His Father. Also, if we love Him with all of our strength, then He will also be Lord over how much we sleep. He will also be Lord over what we eat and how much we eat. What we eat is part of our strength.
King David, a “type” of Jesus, the Lord, shows us another aspect of loving our God and Father with all of our strength. He said that he and his men would intentionally withhold from themselves physical gratification whenever they were to be focused on the Battles of the Lord (1Sam.21:5). Our ability to do Exploits for God is limited or enhanced by how we use our strength! We have a certain amount of physical energy or strength that we will use for one thing or another. If we choose to use our physical strength on all sorts of things for self, so that we are too tired or distracted to serve God, then we are not loving Him with all of our strength. We must make choices so that we will have sufficient physical strength to serve God in very visible, tangible ways.
Our money is also part of our strength. Money comes from the work of our hands. Part of the choice we make about how we spend our strength is how we spend our money. The apostle Paul, as he went from city to city and country to country, said, “Because I have changed your life and I have given you spiritual truth, I have the right that you would give me money for that. Because of what I’ve given you, it’s right that you would give me cake, that you give me your chicken, that you would give me your clothing.” But he said, “No. I want to give to you instead. I will find a way to work hard with my own hands—night and day if I need to—in order that I might be able to give to you. Even though you owe me your very life because of the spiritual things I have taught you, I don’t want to take your chickens or your clothing or your money. I want to find a way to give to you instead. The Lord has said it is more blessed to give than to receive, so I want to find a way to give to you.” So the apostle Paul said he would buffet his body daily in order to find a way to serve God.
The Scriptures say to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and the parts of our body only as instruments of Righteousness. Paul and other servants of God would crucify their bodies by lack of sleep and tiredness. He would crucify his body sometimes when he was hungry or beaten up by robbers—when he was stoned and left for dead lying out in the street. Because he loved God with all of his strength, he picked his bloody body up off of the ground and went back into the city to talk about Jesus. Peter and John had bloody rips on their skin from having been beaten. The religious leaders and the Bible scholars beat them with whips, and they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Then they went back into the marketplace and into the place where the religious people were—the places where the God-haters were. They went back into those places and told the full Good News of life in Jesus because they loved Him—even when their blood was on the ground—with all of their strength. Stephen and James and John the baptizer, and many others gave their last bit of strength in the service of Yahweh and His precious Son. We, too, are to “Love not our lives, even to the point of death.” Father wants us to focus on Him, to love and trust Him completely, even with all of our strength.
Deeper and Deeper
After I asked God this question of what it means to love Him, I was quite shocked to find out how deep the answer was. He requires of me that I love Him with ALL of my heart, because He is a jealous God. He requires that I love Him with ALL of my soul, because He is a jealous God. He requires of me that I love Him with ALL of my mind and ALL of my strength. Now, as I wrestle with these things and try to make sure that my life is getting closer to these things, I find that He catches me up into the middle of Christ deeper and deeper. I find that He makes me wiser and more loving and freer. I find that He can make rivers of living water gush from inside of me like Jesus promised. I find that He can put within me more and more of the power of an indestructible life. I find that He puts weapons of righteousness in my left hand and in my right hand. Elijah, a man like us, commanded clouds to stop raining and then commanded the clouds to rain. The scriptures say Elijah was a man like us. What is available to us in Jesus, if we will truly love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, is beyond our comprehension. Very few people experience these things because very few people will love Him with all of their heart, all their soul, all their mind and all their strength.
And Help Each Other
Part of loving Him is to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love them enough to help them love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. If you see someone around you that is a brother or sister, and they are not loving Him with all their heart and all their soul, all their mind and all their strength, then God said we should help them do that. They are only robbing themselves and robbing God. If we all help each other love Him that way, then the church will be something that is spectacular to behold. But it starts with this most basic command for you as an individual—Love the Lord your God with ALL of your heart. Love the Lord your God with ALL of your soul. Love the Lord your God with ALL of your mind. And love the Lord your God with ALL of your strength. Amen?
That was for me, between me and God, but if it’s helpful to you, then I’m glad we had a chance to talk about it.