This is the second in a series about the commandments to love.
The first is “The Greatest Commandments“.
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 22:34-40
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” –John 13:34-35
I think that loving God with all of our hearts is probably the easiest and most natural way to love God. It is our hearts that we most identify with love, because it is in our hearts that we feel love and in our hearts that we feel the pain of lost love. It is our hearts that overflow with emotion, and our hearts that break.
Our contemporary worship songs are full of love. Some of them, without the lyrics that say Jesus or God, could just be another love song (take that however you want to). More often than not, they evoke some kind of emotion from us that we generally associate as coming from our hearts. But often, the emotion we feel when we sing those songs is fleeting, or at least it is for me. I may feel emotional during a song, and then, when the song is done, and we move on to something else, that emotional level is not there. I’m not saying it isn’t valid, or that it isn’t love. It is. But it is only partial. It is only temporary.
In the first post of this series, I wrote that this commandment from Jesus comes from Deuteronomy 6:5 and I want to try to come back to that in each successive post as well so that we can explore both the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words (as best I can, with the help of BibleWorks
; I am not a language scholar by any stretch of the imagination–so if you know more than I do regarding languages, please, leave a comment and educate me!).
The Hebrew word for heart in this verse is b.b’l, which BibleWorks tells me means inner man, mind, will, and heart. And in Greek, we have something similar. The word is kardi,a which means heart, inner self; mind; will, desire, intention; interior (of the earth). To look at the depth of that, rather than just saying “heart”, shows me that it means so much more than just a “loving feeling”. There is something more to it, something that is, perhaps, essential and permanent to who we are as people. If we love God with all of our hearts, that love must be there after the song ends. It must be there when we do not feel it. It must be there, woven throughout that inner core of who we are. If our hearts fail to beat, we are dead. With every beat of our hearts, then, we should love. If we fail to love, are we also, in a sense, dead?