The First and Greatest Commandment of God

The First and Greatest Commandment of God

The Ten Commandments of God are outlined in Exodus chapter 20: the first five being our moral duties to God while the remaining 5 are our moral duties to our fellow men. Going to the New Testament, the 10 commandments were reduced or summarized to just 2: (1) Love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength, known as the greatest commandment of God; and (2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

For the purpose of this study, we’re only going to tackle and discuss the first and greatest commandment of God, and that is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This passage appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark but again in this study, we are going to use Mark’s interpretation.

Mark 12:28-30 “The First and Greatest Commandment of God”

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

If we start reading from verse 18, Jesus was approached by the Sadducees and started to ask Him about the resurrection. The Sadducees are a group of religious leaders during Jesus’ time who do not believe in the resurrection, and yet they were asking Jesus about it. Jesus then went on to correct their wrong notion about marriage at the resurrection and told them plainly that at the resurrection people will neither marry nor are given in marriage.

Jesus’  answer to the Sadducees sounded convincing to a scribe who happened to be in the crowd. And as it turned out, he had a question of his own. He wanted to know from Jesus what is the first and greatest commandment of all. As a Jewish teacher of the law, he knew very well that the Law consisted of not only 10 but 613 commandments.

What is the First and Greatest Commandment of God

And in response, Jesus essentially quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5, the “Shema.” (The Shema is the Jewish declaration of faith which they recite every day: morning and evening.) So by quoting the Shema, Jesus reaffirmed that the requirement for God’s people has never changed, it has always been the same and indeed, it will always be the same.

So what then does it mean to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength?

How to LOVE God with All your Heart

In the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), Proverbs 4:23 says “the heart is the source of life.” In other translations it says that out of the heart springs the issues of life.

Now, why does the Bible say that the heart is the source of life? Simply because it’s your heart that keeps you physically alive. So it’s referring to physical life. Remember that there are 3 aspects of life namely: physical, spiritual and eternal. So as long as your heart is beating and performing its normal functions, you’re alive. But once your heart fails or stops, then you’re dead! That will be the end of your physical life.

The heart being the center of our life is also the control center of all our affections. And ultimately, it’s our heart that determines what actions to pursue based on our affections.

What does it mean to love God with all your heart?

1) To love God with all your heart is to set all your affections on Him; to desire God above all else as the deer longs for streams of water (Psalm 42:1). Notice how a deer is longing for water brooks. That’s how you would long for God if you truly love Him with all your heart. You would want to always be filled with the Holy Spirit and are always longing for His presence.

2) To love God with all your heart is to make Him number 1 in your life and love Him above all else. Do you long to communicate with God every waking hour? In this generation where technology is the new thing” nobody seems to survive anymore without access to the world of information and communication.

Today we’re living in a society where people sit across the table but do not even talk to each other. They’re so hooked on their smartphones and tablets that they seem to not care about other people around them anymore.

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart

To love God above anything or anybody else is to always make Him your number 1 priority. But how? How exactly are you going to do that? Well, if you can treasure God above anything or anyone else then you can actually say with confidence that you truly love God with all your heart. What or who is your priority?

A litmus test to know who or what your priorities really are is to discern and identify what you treasure the most. You can easily determine where your affections really lie by identifying what you treasure the most, because your affections follow what you treasure. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Now ask yourself, What do I value the most that I cannot survive without? What do I treasure so much that I cannot and will never give up?” Is it money, your job, possessions, career, family? If you say yes to any or all of these, then it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.

Do you choose to work on Sundays instead of going to your local Church to worship God in order to make more money? Are you going to listen to what your friends and family tell you knowing very well that they’re contrary to God’s word? Do you really want to love Jesus completely?

Then you’ll have to treasure Him supremely. Think about God’s love, His goodness and His grace. Always remember Jesus’ sacrifice and you will never have to worry about your heart being somewhere else other than with God.

How to LOVE God with All your Soul

If the heart is the control center of all our affections, the soul is the center of all our emotional activities. Our soul literally defines who we are. Our soul is our inner self; it is our identity or personality. If loving God with all our heart has to do with affections, loving the Lord with all our soul has to do with devotion.

Note: The soul is not the same as the spirit; they are connected but separable. The spirit is the immaterial aspect of man that connects with God. It enables us to have an intimate relationship with God.

How do you love God with all your soul?

1) To love God with all your soul means to be devoted to Him completely. We are talking here of a “wholehearted devotion” to God. It means total commitment to God to the point that you are willing to surrender your life to Him completely.

2) To love God with all your soul is to be passionate about Him; to be always on fire or zealous for God and not be lukewarm (Romans 12:1). And to love God with all your soul is to obey His commandments (John 14:15). Obedience is one aspect of our Christian life where we can show God we truly love Him.

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your soul

Do you want to love God with all your soul and follow him wholeheartedly? The cost of following Jesus is clearly laid out in Luke 9:23-24. It talks about self-denial and taking up your cross daily. It means not really caring about your life here on earth, your personal ambitions, wants and desires, because you’re looking forward to an eternal life with Jesus.

The word we’re looking for here is sacrifice. Can you set aside your wishes and desires in order to follow God? Are you willing to suffer and give your life for the sake of the Gospel? Can you honestly say that no matter what happens and despite the persecutions and ridicule you receive from people of the opposing view, that you will remain faithful to God?

Are you dedicated to keep and obey all of God’s commandments even if at times you will be put in a tough spot or end up in an impossible situation as a result of your obedience? Will you continue to serve God in your ministry even if your pastors and leaders continue to disappoint you by their words and actions?

Only you can answer these questions. And remember, God hears even the softest whisper of your heart.

How to LOVE God with All your Mind

The mind is the seat or center of our intellectual life. It is the origin of our ideas, our perspective in life and our viewpoints. God has gifted each of us with a mind of our own which gives us the capacity to think and make decisions. The mind is an amazing gift from God; and it can be everything from fairly feeble to an incredible genius.

What does it mean to love God with all your mind?

1) To love God with all your mind is to bring your mind under the lordship of Christ and pursue a mind that seeks the truth about God. This means that your intellect and thinking must be in strict subordination to God’s revelation of Himself.

We read in 2 Corinthians 10:5 how we are instructed to destroy all arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and every thought must be taken captive to obey Christ. Although we will never get to a point where we will be able to grasp everything about God completely because we are finite, we must desire to keep learning more about Him through His revelation of Himself in the Bible.

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your mind

Although God’s thoughts and ways are so high we can’t fathom as it says in Isaiah 55:8-9, we are to submit to Him by allowing His Word to transform us by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2).

2) To love God with all your mind means submitting your mind, thought patterns, opinions and decisions to God’s word. It means dedicating your mind to Him and to not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs. 3:5).

Often times we tend to act on impulse; we make decisions according to what we think is right without consulting God first. Whenever you’re in a situation where you may need to make important and life-changing decisions, get to the Word first. You ask God, “Is this your will Lord?” Because loving God with all your mind means you act not on what you think but in accord with the facts of the Word of God.

How to LOVE God with All your Strength

Loving God with all our is perhaps the easiest to understand. Because while the heart, soul and mind have to do with what’s on the inside of us, strength has to do with what’s on the outside of us. Strength refers to our abilities, talents, capacities, gifts and physical powers. In other words, strength is about what we can do and the things we have such as skills, money and resources among many other things.

How are you to love God with all your strength?

1) Loving God with all your strength is to love Him with all your skills, abilities, your money and your time. You must surrender all these to God and use them for His glory. To love God with all your strength is to devote your capacity to God instead of being devoted to your personal wishes. This does not mean you cannot do stuff for yourself anymore; it just means that you devote what you have and what you do for yourself to God.

In Colossians 3:17, the word of God admonishes us to do everything in the name of Jesus our Lord with thanksgiving to God the Father through Him.

Ask yourself: What do I do with my time? What kinds of things do I read and what programs do I watch? Where do I spend time when I want to relax? What kind of entertainment do I enjoy? Is God glorified with the things I love to do and enjoy?

2) To love God with all your strength is to recognize God as your  only” source and means for living. Let me make this clear. God is NOT a RESOURCE, He is our  only” source. God owns everything (Psalm 24:1); your wealth, properties and possessions including your life. Whatever you think you own belongs to God but He entrusted them to you. Now, how are you using God’ properties and money? Are you using them for God’s glory and purpose?

What does it mean to love the Lord with all your strength

You may think that it’s your own ability that’s making you produce wealth. You think that because you’re working as hard as you can that you own what you possess and you have every right to enjoy them or do whatever pleases you. But the Word of God says it very loud and clear. It is God who gives you the power or ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were supposed to give 10% to God. The purpose of which was to demonstrate their love to God. They practiced tithing as a discipline to teach them that everything belongs to God. They received from God, held on to it, and then quickly gave the first part to God (Proverbs 3:9).

When we come to the New Testament, we Christians cannot do less. If you think that living under grace means you can give less, I believe that’s a mistake! We should be able to give more than just 10%, not because the Word of God compels us but because grace impels us.

3) Loving God with all your strength is not to lean on your own strength, but you use your strength as you lean by faith on Him. What does this mean? It means that you always trust in God to give you the strength to overcome any trial or difficulty. Yes, you are to make an effort but always acknowledge God to be the source of your strength because without Him, you can do nothing (John 15:5).

Every fiber of our being and every aspect of our lives are to be focused on God for He is the reason for our existence. We are living and breathing because of God’s love, mercy and grace. In God we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

*Related Article: Man: A Tripartite Being with Body, Soul and Spirit

Conclusion

In conclusion and closing, I would like to call your attention to how the words “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” are not condensed as in with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Instead, the words with all” are repeated with each noun in order to place emphasis on each faculty that we are to use in loving God. This strongly stresses the fact that there should be no holding back or incompleteness in our devotion and commitment to God.

We are to love God 110%. We must go all out and give it our best shot. We cannot really divide our love, trust and affection. Matthew 6:24 says, No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

So, does what you give of your money illustrate your true love for God? Does your giving of your time, talents, gifts and strengths illustrate your true love for God? That’s between you and God.

At the end of the day, our purpose is to glorify God and to love Him with all our being. We may stumble and fall along the way but we’ll just have to live each day striving to perfectly love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength.

14 Replies to “The First and Greatest Commandment of God”

  1. I agree with you that this is the greatest commandment… but Jesus said that there is another one that is not least… It’s to love your neighbor as yourself.

    For me, it’s little bit like John said, it’s not me who loved God, but Him who loved me first. My base on loving God starts there.

    My love for Him starts with the great love He had and still have for me.

    It’s that love that give me the strength to love Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind and strength. It’s when I realized and believe in that great love He has for me.

    It’s also though that love and because of that love that I can love others as well.

    Apart from Him, I would be like a dry branch.

    1. Hi Guy,

      There are two greatest commandments of God but in my article I only tackled the first and foremost. Needless to say, we should not forget the second one which is “to love your neighbor as yourself.”

      I’m so blessed to hear of your love to and relationship with God. His love is truly amazing! We can never reciprocate it but we have to always do our best to love Him. Fallen in nature, we are incapable of loving anyone but because of the love of God that He has poured into our hearts, we are able to. 

      God bless!

  2. I will definitely agree that this has to be the ultimate commandment that any Christian should follow. Everything you do should be based out of love and heart, not hate and negativity.

    If you put your full faith into your religion, you will lead a fruitful and positive life, full of caring and support for others, that’s for sure. There are hundreds of millions of Christians around the whole world! Did you know that in South Korea, the most prominent religion is Christianity (Protestant and Catholic)? I think there are some 15 million Christians in South Korea alone, which is a relatively small country (about the size of Kentucky)!

    Beautiful post, ma’am! I hope you continue to spread your lovely words all over the world!

    1. Hi Heather, I hope you’re doing well by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      The 10 commandments outlined in the Old Testament have been summarized into just two in the N.T.: 1) to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength and 2) to love others as yourself.

      To love God is the first and greatest commandment which every believer must strive to follow. There will be times when we falter and fail but that does not mean we will give up. We just have to keep on doing our best. I believe that the key here is a submissive heart, a heart that longs to please and honor God in every possible way.

      I say that putting our faith in religion is different from putting our faith in Christ and in what He has done for us. Because when religion becomes our focus, everything we do might just become a ritual to make ourselves feel better while if our focus is God Himself who is holy and loving, we always have the sense of awareness that our obedience and good works do not have bearing in our salvation. Instead, we desire to obey and please God because we love Him.

      Shalom Heather and God bless!

  3. I find your page informational and engaging. I loved your explanations of loving God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. I also love that you are continuing to follow Christ’s instructions to spread his Word and his importance to mankind. To me, and of utmost importance as we go from day to day, we should maintain communion with Christ through the Holy Spirit at all times. Letting the Holy Spirit guide us in every thing we do is essential, but we need to acknowledge that we are helpless and need the guidance. I particularly invoke his presence when I am about to confront someone with a problem. It is helpful to know he is there and that I need to listen and acknowledge his presence and his wishes. The best to you as you continue your work for our Lord.

    1. Shalom Tanya! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s much appreciated.
      Maintaining communion with Christ through the Holy Spirit is very essential to every believer as it keeps us under the will of God. There are times in our walk with the Lord that we get sidetracked by the cares of this world and we forget what our business really is for being in this world, which is primarily to love and serve God and to love and serve others by sharing the good news of God’s salvation. 
      May the Lord bless and keep you always.

  4. Excellent information and a reminder that in obedience to God’s wishes and while keeping our attention on him at all times, we are expected to honor our commitments, to have good work ethics, to take care of our families, to give back to Him and to our community, to maintain those possessions he has bestowed on us–our living quarters, cars, the landscapes we traverse, places we work and visit, etc.–and most importantly to love him and share him with as many people as we can. Thank you for your website.

    1. Hey Tanya, thanks so much for your kind words. It’s truly an honor to love and serve God through the works I do here.

      I agree, loving God and obeying His greatest commandment takes commitment; it’s about striving to follow Him even when there will be times that it gets difficult because of the things we may have to give up or sacrifice. However, it’s always comforting to know that loving Him in every possible way we can does not even come close to how He much He loves us. May we be encouraged to keep loving God, serve and glorify Him in every aspect of our live.

      May the Lord bless you abundantly!

  5. God has such and amazing love towards us that he give his only son to take away the sins of the world. God love is so great and awesome and His love is a love that we cannot do without. What this world needs more of is to see that greater love demonstrated through us so they can also experience the love of God. Gods love is so great that one day He is coming back to take us to that home he has prepared for us. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Amen brother Norman! How great is the love of God that He made a way for us to be saved from eternal punishment. It’s the love of God that He demonstrated at the cross of Calvary that impels us to obey the greatest commandment of God to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and will all our strength, and to love our neighbor the way we love our self. 
      And yes, Jesus our Lord is coming back to take us to be with Him, what a wonderful promise indeed, hallelujah!

  6. I really appreciate your comprehensive explanation of Mark 12:28-30. It is readable and straight.

    I also liked the way you post questions to the readers to analyze their hearts and themselves about their love of God.

    I hope many can read this post and think that life is not about existence but it is all about our love in God that matters.

    What is life anyway without love?

    1. Hi brother, thanks for your comment.

      Loving God with our whole being: heart, soul, mind and strength is something that we as believers and followers of Christ must strive to perfect day after day. It may seem like a great challenge but it should not be that difficult to do. We just have to remind our self everyday what God has done to show how much he loves us. I love the song that goes this way: “Think about His love, think about His goodness, think about His grace that brought us through. For as high as the heavens above, so great is the measure of our Father’s love …” 

      Yes, it’s our love for God that matters more that anything else because if we truly love God, we are able to obey Him faithfully and we can also fulfill the second of God’s greatest commandment which is to love our neighbor as ourself. 

  7. the Jews took the commandment of the Old Testament not imposing laws rather a life style, for them to be distinct from the other nation around them since other tribes was idol worshiper or pagan. This uniqueness serve to them as chosen nation believing and worshiping an unseen God. To love an unseen God are needed some guideline on how they can approach a Holy God.

    1. Hi brother Rey, thanks for your input. I agree, the basis for the Jews’ obedience was God’s covenant with them. Their obedience to God has become a discipline or lifestyle in the way they serve and worship God.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *