-Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
-Matthew 22:37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
-Luke 10:27…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, Love your neighbor as yourself.
These three New Testament Scripture passages all quote Jesus speaking words that would have been familiar to his Jewish hearers, the Shema. They’re words still used repeatedly in Jewish prayers. They all include loving God with your heart and soul which seems obvious. The inclusion of mind and/or strength is the variant that got my attention. I understand the access to mind and strength more than I do heart and soul.
This is the age-old debate: Is it strength of commitment or the exercise of the mind that fills the heart and soul? How do we figure out what’s required of us to prove our sincerity? It would seem even these Bible authors had their own opinion on that. Mind and strength? Mind? Strength? Do I have to choose one or the other?
Hillel was a famous religious leader in Jewish history. He was asked to recite the whole law for a dedicated student who would prove his sincerity and his physical strength by listening to it all while standing on one leg. That’s a funny mind picture isn’t it? Hillel’s short answer was probably pretty welcome to him; “What thou hatest for thyself, do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”
This is the whole law…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” Now go find a comfortable spot, read, study and think. God will begin to write his whole commentary in your mind and on your heart to strengthen your soul
Matthew 13:3 Then he [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” NIV
I am a confirmed believer the Spirit of God uses repetition to direct my mind. Repetition of a recent word or thought gets my attention and that’s exactly what God desires. Remember my reference to the “mustard seed” in the last post? This truth about seeds just “happened” to pop up in this blog by raincitypastor, Richard Dahlstrom, Step by Step Journey.
“One of the most famous parables in the Bible is the story about the seed and the sower. “A farmer went out to sow his seed” is how it begins, and by the end of the tale we discover that not all the seeds reached their full potential. The seed, though, was never the problem; it was the soil. Too many rocks. Too many thorns. Not enough depth. It’s a powerful tale, because later in the Bible we’re told that “His seed abides in us.”
That thoughtful commentary recalled yet another recent repetition of thought for me – the book of Genesis and our future. We all know the long-ago story of Adam and Eve and their “original sin” that became our heritage. Thankfully that is not the end of the story at all. 1 John 3: 9 says “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
I think God’s provision for Adam and Eve was more than clothing as they left that perfect Garden to begin a life of “painful toil.” He chose to leave a little seed of his “original innocence” within them insuring there would be a new heritage for all their descendants – the possibility of overcoming their own sin. Innocence was no longer a given but there would be “good soil” that could produce a crop of purity — “a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”