You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
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.” Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus answered a Pharisee by stating that the first commandment is to love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our souls, and all our minds. We may not pay much attention to this commandment because we have heard it many times! So it’s important to slow down, think about the different elements of this commandment, and what they mean to us!
First, what does it look like to love the Lord with all our hearts!?
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, Proverbs 3:3
God desires for us to be full of mercy and truth. He wants us to write mercy and truth on the tablet of our hearts. That means that we need to be continually aware of God’s mercy towards us and just as the Lord has been merciful to us, we also need to be merciful to others. This is a reminder of the Lord’s prayer when Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:12, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Those who have received the love and the forgiveness of the Lord have the responsibility to bless others with mercy and forgiveness as God has forgiven us.
Furthermore, God wants us to write truth on our hearts. We need to spend time knowing God’s truth, meditating on it, and keeping it in our hearts. His truth keeps us anchored and helps us to stay on the narrow path. Our heart is the place where we keep those things that are dear to us. Are His truth and mercy dear and valuable to us!?
Furthermore, in John 1:14, the scripture tells us that Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” When we live and walk in truth and mercy, we represent the Lord Jesus and who He is to the world!
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
In addition to keeping God’s mercy and truth in our hearts, we also need to protect our hearts from all others desires, distractions, and pollutions. The issues of life are varied. We have many temptations coming at us causing us to think that there are more important things to devote our time and attention to. There are also many trends that try to influence our choices to be popular and relevant, and they attempt to derail us from God’s desires and priorities.
Sometimes, the issues of life could be just dealing appropriately with people and not allowing our hearts to grow bitter or cold towards others because they have failed to meet our expectations. It’s hard to love others and not be disappointed when they fail us. However, the scripture tells us to guard our hearts with all diligence. That tells me that it is not easy to protect our hearts, and it requires work, intentionality, and attention.
If we want to remain in a place where God has the first place in our hearts, it is like a person who decides to get married. When we make the decision and the covenant to get married, in effect we are saying that my heart belongs to my spouse, and it is guarded and protected from falling in love with any other person! Similarly, if our hearts are dedicated to the Lord, then we cannot allow other loves to come into our hearts and pollute us from our first commitment. We need to put a seal on our hearts that other desires will not be allowed.
Lord, our hearts belong to you! Show us if we we have anything in our hearts that has taken your place or it has crowded or polluted our hearts. We want to have a clean heart before you. Teach us to guard it. Help us to keep mercy and truth in our hearts and to represent you well to a lost world! Amen!