Mark 12:30 is perhaps one of the most quoted and memorized verses in the New Testament. Jesus stated that it is the greatest command.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
I am currently in the middle of preaching a series on this passage. Recently, I just did a sermon on Loving God with all of Our Hearts. How does one love God with all of their heart?? This is a question I hope to answer in this article.
One person stated, “The heart is an arrow, and it demands aim to land true.” I submit that the heart is an instrument by which we are to love and the Bible demands that we aim our hearts and its love towards God. So what does it mean to aim our hearts towards God? To answer this question, I have divided this article into two parts: A Broad Definition of “Heart” and The Method by Which We Aim.
DEFINITION OF “HEART”
The Greek word in Mark 12:30 for “heart” is Kardias. It appears over 58 times in the Greek NT and it does not refer to a bodily organ, but rather something more figurative. The meaning of this word within the context of this passage has been debated and there are multiple interpretations of the word within this passage. It is hard to rebut any argument put forward to others interpretations. With that being said, your interpretation of the word “heart” might be different than mine, but that does not mean that either (or both) of us are wrong. When I see the use of the word “heart” throughout scripture, I often see it tied to intentions, thoughts, and choices. Following a certain desire. Read what it says in Luke 6:43-45:
“A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thorn-bushes, or grapes from a bramble bush. A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
As we see in this passage, those who choose to do good have good heart. Those who choose to do bad have bad hearts. You may have heard it said by modern society that you should “follow your own heart.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard it on television: “Chase your heart”, “Follow your dreams”, “Do what makes you happy.” I declare that the most dangerous thing you could ever do is follow your own heart. Read what Mark 7:21.
“For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
The world says “follow your heart.” But the Bible says “Are you sure you want to do that? Because from the heart of man comes bad things.” You see, our hearts have a direct tie to our intentions and our actions. We do what we most desire to do. We should never rely on our own desires. We should only seek the desires of God. Man wants chase wealth and prosperity and pleasure. If you recall the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, the son wanted badly to receive his birthright and leave his father. He wanted to go and chase his own desires. However, it only led to his demise. He may have received immediate pleasure and satisfaction from following his heart. He may have been happy for a short time; but in the end, even he understood that apart from his father and his father’s resources, he had absolutely nothing.
God, in His infinite wisdom, understands that we will never make it on our own. He understands that we need instruction. This is why we are told to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness. And all these things will be added to (us). (Matthew 6:33)”
AIMING OUR HEARTS
So now the question must be begged: “If we are to love God with all our choices and intentions, how then are we to do it?” The answer to this question is very simple… the choice is yours. You should choose to do right. Aiming our hearts towards God means choosing to do the right thing. A Christian should CHOOSE to be Christ-like.
One of my favorite things about the Churches of Christ is that when other denominations have decided to follow man’s doctrines and teachings – when man has decided to follow his own heart – the Churches of Christ (for the most part) remains steadfast in God’s Word. In order to correctly aim your hearts to God, we must SEEK to always obey His Word and commands. Please read Proverbs 3:5-7 (quoted below). This verse is one that would be wise to highlight if you are that kind of person. It seems today that many congregations and denominations quote this passage, but it is rarely followed.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight. Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”
When we rely on man’s teachings, then we are not trusting God with our hearts. When we rely on our own understandings, then we are not trusting God with our hearts. Mortal man following his own desires will result in his destruction. Instead, we should seek to give our hearts to God and allow Him (through His Word) to direct our paths.
In Isaiah 40, the people of Israel kept on turning from God. When they were finally started to be besieged by other nations, they called on God to help them, but he didn’t answer (cf. John 9:31). Please read what it says in Isaiah 40:27-31.
“Jacob, why do say, and Israel, why do you assert: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my claim is ignored by my God’ ? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.”
God, the one over all creation (Elohim), has all understanding. In His infinite wisdom, he gave us the Bible so that we may have a path to walk on. When we decide to obey what is written in the Bible, when we decide to trust God, then God supplies us with the strength to make it in life. He also makes us likes Eagles that soar in the sky. And when we soar in the sky, our perspective of the World becomes more broad and not so self-centered. Our way of living becomes more clear. We should not rely on man’s interpretations, for they make the way of living less clear. We should not rely on man’s doctrines, they cloud our perception. Instead, we should follow God’s righteous laws… but it is a choice that you and I have to make. As a minister of God’s Word, I can talk the big talk, but I also have to make the choice to obey what the Bible says. Man could get all the knowledge he needs or desires; but if that knowledge is not followed by action, then that man has tricked his own heart. God’s Word is sharper than a two edge sword and it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).
If we truly love God with all of our hearts, then we should possess a heart of anguish and sorrow when we cheat on Him with sin. If we truly love God with all our hearts, we should turn to a lifestyle of repentance.
Charles Spurgeon once stated “If Christ is not all to you He is nothing to you. He will never go into partnership as a part Savior of men. If He be something He must be everything, and if He be not everything He is nothing to you.”
Christ is the bride of the Church. Do you love Him with all of your heart?? Do you love God with all of your heart?? You know, it was God who desired and chose to send His own son to die for our sins. We can talk about the good things we may do and all the righteous decisions we have made under God’s counsel. However, we may never boast about our choices because God made the biggest one. In Isaiah 53, we read that it pleased YHWH to crush Him!! God wanted to send His son on the cross because He wants all of us to have access to eternal life.
I’ve cheated on God with my sins. We’ve all cheated on God with our sins. God still loves us and he desires for us to come to Him. If you truly love God with all your heart, then I ask – no, beg – for you to please open your Bible and strive to live out what is in it. We can talk the big talk, but let us please walk the big walk.
Have a great week.
**Sermon preached by Joshua Dykes on December 1, 2019. Article published online on December 3, 2019.
**All bible quotes are from the Christian Standard Bible