-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
NIV [New International Version] 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
TLB [The Living Bible] 5:1 So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.
As much as I love the book of Romans and the NIV version it’s easy to read familiar words and phrases like “justified, peace with God through Jesus, grace in which we now stand, and boast in the hope of the glory of God” and let them slip by because I know I believe them. The challenge is not to let that happen. I want the truth of Scripture to be more important to my everyday life than that. That’s when I’m thankful for being able to read another version like The Living Bible, and be reminded how much those familiar phrases matter.
I am “justified” because God sees my faith in his promises through Jesus’ eyes. The reality of peace with God is Jesus Christ has done that for me. My faith is the gift of access to the grace that gives me confidence I can look forward to actually becoming all that God has in mind for me to be.
The Living Bible is a paraphrase created by Kenneth N. Taylor, the founder of Tyndale House and first published in 1971. Dr. Taylor used a previously translated version, the American Standard Version of 1901, to create The Living Bible. Taylor intended his paraphrase to put the basic message of the Bible into easier-to-read language, not to replace accepted translations.
The New International Version is a completely original translation of the Bible developed by more than one hundred scholars. The Committee of Bible Translation was charged to meet every year to review, maintain, and strengthen the NIV’s ability to accurately and faithfully render God’s unchanging Word as new discoveries are made about the biblical world and its languages.
Don’t neglect the privilege you have to read other versions of Scripture, especially when they seem familiar to you. God will make his truth worth your effort.
25 I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
26 I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
27 Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me and teach me your law.
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have broadened my understanding.
These eight verses were used by God in the life of the Psalmist. They were highlighted with the subtle heading of an access door to God, a “Daleth,” and kept for us; the future generations when subtlety would be replaced with reality. God would reveal the “Daleth.”
The “door” is exactly how Jesus describes himself in the NASB version of John 10:7 “So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”
These verses of the Psalm are meant for us today. Try this; read all eight of the verses as if you are the “I” and insert the name of our door, Jesus, where it seems to fit in each of them. You may discover these words have become your own access door; praise from one more flawed and fearful, but faithful, servant committed to finding faith in daily life. May it be so.