February 6, 2017 • Life for Leaders
“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
It’s not hard for us to relate to loving God with all our heart, even in the biblical sense of thoughtful choices as we exercise our will to do what honors the Lord. And it’s not hard for us to conceive of loving God with all our soul, with all of our inner being, including our emotions. But loving God with all our mind may, at first, seem odd. We wonder what it means to love God with our mind.
If you were to look up the Old Testament original that stands behind Mark 12:30, you’d find that the word “mind” does not show up in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. So, why did Jesus say that we’re to love God with our mind? It’s possible that Jesus added the word “mind” to his paraphrase of this passage. It’s more likely, however, that different versions of the so-called Shema (the Hebrew imperative meaning “Listen!”) circulated in Jewish oral tradition. Jesus had heard this version from some rabbi and used it himself. No matter the source of the word “mind,” the main point was that what had been implicit in the Hebrew word “heart,” which includes our capacity for thinking, was made explicit by the addition of the word “mind” (dianoia in Greek). We are to love God with all that we are, including our thinking. Loving God fully includes, not just obedience in body, commitment in will, and passion in feeling, but also thinking in a particular way.
How can we do this? How can we love the Lord with our minds? We begin, I would suggest, with choosing to think about God. As we focus our thoughts upon the Lord, considering his character and remembering his awesome works, we start to love God with our minds. This exercise of worship is based on the reading and study of Scripture. We know God truly through his Word. These Life for Leaders devotions are, in fact, written to help you love God with your mind by directing your attention to Scripture and inviting you to reflect upon its truth. The point is not simply that you would know more about God and his ways, however important this might be. Rather, these devotions are meant to encourage you in your thoughtful love for God, so that you might then love him more fully with all that you are.
When we love God with our minds by thinking rightly about him and reflecting on his nature, we are enabled to love him in the way we think about other things, including the things of our daily work. The way we think about everything in life can be an act of worship if we offer our minds to God and learn to think in his ways. Thus, we can love God with our minds, not only when specifically reflecting on him, but also in every arena of life, including our workplace.
Tomorrow, I’ll consider in greater detail how we might love God in our work. For now, I’d encourage you to consider the following questions.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you hear Jesus talk about loving God with your mind, how do you respond? Does this language make sense to you? Does it fit with your experience?
Do you love the Lord with your mind? How? What does this mean in your life?
How might you grow in your ability to love God in your thinking?
How might the way you think at work be an act of love for God?
Gracious God, you have called me to love you with all that I am . . . heart, soul, mind, and strength. Today I’m reminded especially of the opportunity I have to love you in my thinking.
O Lord, may I take time to think about you, to consider your attributes, to celebrate your deeds, to meditate upon your love. May my study of Scripture be a door into deeper devotion to you. May your truth shape my thoughts not just about you, but also about everything else.
Help me, by your Spirit, to love you in my thinking, not only when I’m focused on you, but in all of my thoughts, decisions, and strategies. May I love you with my mind in every part of my life, including my work.
All praise be to you, O God, because you are worthy of all my love. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Minds (Romans 12:1–3)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.