It feels… challenging as I see God re-focusing my priorities. Have you ever been in that place with God? He is allowing life to change all around me and it is hard – deep in my soul. Grief and loss and challenges have pushed in so far that I wonder what I am supposed to be doing. And in the midst of all of this God says, “Love the Lord with all your soul.” How is that possible?
What Does It Mean to Love The Lord With All Your Soul?
Life is filled with change and change is hard, but amidst the change, we are called to love God. What does it mean to love God with all your soul? That is the question that has challenged me for years because God says it in many places in the Old and New Testaments. But when I think it through I am faced with more questions:
- How do you love the Lord with all your heart would and strength?
- What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart?
- What does it mean to love God with all your soul?
- Can there be joy in my soul in trials?
I want to live out this command to love the Lord with all your soul, but I need to better understand it. How about you?
Scripture About Loving God Will All Your Soul
“And 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.’” (Matthew 22:37 NASB)
The Bible says, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” in many places. Let’s look at each, “Love the Lord with all your heart verse,” for clarity. First, we saw Matthew 22:37 which is very straightforward. Mark 12 and Luke 10:27 give us a bit more though.
“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.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (Mark 12:30-31 NASB)
What is Mark 12:31 in the Bible referring to that he changes up what Jesus said? I’ve been asked that and many other questions like that. What I love about the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and words is that they are a bit different. I imagine when Mark is re-telling the story, he is remembering Deuteronomy 6 and making a connection. Jesus was not giving a new commandment. In fact, He was restating an old one and clarifying it.
““Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NASB)
Every Jewish boy would have known the Shama. The call to Love the Lord was not new. In fact, I bet they sat in synagogue and heard many, “Love the Lord with all your soul sermons,” just like we do in church today. Comforting right? Just knowing we serve the same God and He is calling us to love Him today just as He called them then?
What Does It Mean To Love God With All Your Soul?
What on earth is a soul anyway?
The soul is a hard thing to understand let alone describe, so we must go back to the Bible and find the answers.
The word used for the soul is Psyche which means:
- The seat of the feelings, desires, affections, and aversions.
From this biblical definition, we see a lot about our soul, but it becomes clearer when we see Scripture about the soul.
Bible Verses About Your Soul
God gave us a soul. He literally breathed it into Adam at creation.
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person.” (Genisis 2:7 NASB)
The soul is the part of us that is saved. And the soul waits for the Lord – because it comes from Him I am sure.
“My Soul Waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation” (Psalm 62:1 NASB)
Our Soul is the very core of who we are. When we express ourselves we are expressing our soul. We could express the things of God’s Kingdom or the things of our kingdom.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1 NASB
The soul seeks after things and should be seeking after God. It is a challenging balance because the things of the world draw us in. The things of God seem distant, but they are what we are truly longing for! Love the Lord with all your heart Deuteronomy 4:29 style is about searching for Him through it all.
Since the soul is where our feelings and expression are, loving God with our soul must be about expressing God rather than me. Click To Tweet
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NASB)
What Does It Mean to Love the Lord Your God With All Your Soul?
Earlier in our series, we asked what does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart. It only makes sense that we ask that of each word in Matthew 22. It is critical we understand the meaning of this.
Since the soul is where our feelings and expression are, loving God with our soul must be about expressing God rather than me. Let me say it another way… Love the Lord with all your soul meaning, express God instead of yourself, your selfish desires and longings, your self-promoting dreams…
Loving God with my soul is about giving up myself in order to express God.
When I am striving to love God with all my heart by setting love for Him as my 1st priority, I find that my soul will begin to express the things of God more than the things of Tiffany. Does that make sense?
Related Post: How to Love God With All My Heart
How To Love The Lord With All Your Soul
Giving up myself in order to express God is easy when life is easy. But how do we love God well when life is changing and life is hard?
When things are changing and life gets hard, it’s best to drop to my knees and be sure everything is right in my vertical relationship with God.
When life gets hard I go back to these checkpoints to be sure I am right with God and walking in the path He has for me. That is how to love the Lord with all your soul no matter what!
- Life in a fallen world
- Check my priorities
Is there sin in my life?
Sometimes hardship is a result of my sin… and honestly, I am often unaware of my sin until then. Can you relate? Sin sneaks in through the tiniest foothold the enemy might have in my life. Pride is often at the heart of my sin struggles and I never see it until God shines His light on that monster!
I love that God loves me enough to do what He needs to do to get my attention. Change and hardship are great tools in the hands of a loving God.
Related Post: How to Create a Highly Effective Prayer Life
Does God want to redirect me?
Sometimes hardship is God’s way of giving me direction. Many times, God tries to tell me He wants to shift my attention and my time but I am so stubborn. I never want to quit on things or people. I feel guilty for putting what feels like my responsibilities onto someone else’s plate. But who am I to say what should be mine or what God wants for others?
So when I have said no to Him, He shifts things, changing life on me, making me miserable in what I am holding onto. I wish I were better at being still and listening, but He often has to speak/act loudly to get my attention!
When I am faced with change and hardship 50% of the time I find He wants me to focus somewhere else and I could have saved myself a lot of heartaches if I had listened the first time.
Spending time in Bible and in prayer. When I am cultivating a consistent quiet time I hear Him more easily and obey more quickly!
Life in a Fallen World
We live in a fallen world. Any debate there?
Sometimes hardship is just a result of living in that fallen world. People make poor choices. Other people create chaos in our lives. It just happens.
Even then, when it was through no fault of my own, however, I can love the Lord with all my soul! I can tap into the joy in my soul and keep seeking the Lord!
I find that humbling myself and seeking Him in these times grows our relationship in beautiful ways. Fasting is a great way to find breakthroughs in those times!
Related Post: 5 Reasons God Calls Us to Fast
Check My Priorities
Recently, there has been a higher than normal amount of change and hardship. After checking the first three checkpoints I realized I had been drifting from God. I was not really giving Him first place in my heart.
God was not first in my life and in my day.
Many days I would fall into bed exhausted and drift to sleep praying – feeling regret that God was getting my leftovers. Can you relate?
Some ways to see God is not our first priority:
- No time in the Bible.
- Prayer only at meals and bedtime.
- No joy.
- Easily aggravated.
- Easily offended.
- Anger is a first reaction rather than love as a first response.
How do you shift your life so God is your first priority?
How To Love God With All Your Soul
This one question can change the entire course of our lives. How do we make God our first priority? What we prioritize shows what we love. If we love God with all our souls we will make Him our first love, our first priority. But how do we set God first? It really is one step with many parts.
- Give God your first:
Meet with God First
It took a while to convince myself to get up earlier than the kids to meet with God first. To talk to God first requires an early start to the day when the day before ended so late. It is tough. And the first hours of my day are not my best – especially since my health made me give up coffee!
But, now I meet with God first let me tell you, It changes how I approach everything else in my day.
All My Talents Are God’s
Now, I don’t spend all my time at church serving God, but God has given me talents, skills, abilities, interests, passions… So I try to do all that I do now as if it is for Him. I wash the dishes for Him, sweep the floor for Him, write this article for Him, sing for Him, and hug my children for Him. Or I try to at any rate.
How do I try to do everything for Him? I remind myself to grateful for even the parts that I dislike because God has blessed me greatly.
All My Treasures Are God’s
The Bible says everything we have is from God. Do I manage all I have as if it is God’s and I am just His steward?
- How do I spend God’s money?
- How do I use God’s house and car?
- Are my children God’s or mine and am I raising them accordingly?
Everything I see as a treasure came from God. If I am loving God well, I am living as though I am simply borrowing all I love… tough huh?
Do You Love The Lord With All Your Soul?
Can I be honest with you? I really struggle with how to love God with my soul. I have to examine my life often to see if I am loving God, setting Him as the first priority and this is the question He prompts me with:
“When I speak or act, does it sound/look like Jesus or the world?”
Do you love the Lord with all your soul? Which of the checkpoints do you need to review?
- Life in a fallen world
- Check my priorities
Are you giving Him the first of your time, talents, and treasures? If not, let’s commit to trying again today!
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