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August 25, 2017

Intentional Love

“‘Love the Lord your God … with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 (NIV)

Jesus summed up the entire Old Testament in one simple commandment – love God and love others. Then, He qualified that commandment with four descriptions of how to do that. I call these the four rings of a focused relationship. We are to love with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.

When you read the great commandment in Mark 12:30-31, you can’t help but notice the word all. It’s used four times. In other words, to love the way God commands is to be all there – being all there with my affections, my emotions, my intellect and my actions.  We’ve already looked at the first two this week. Now, how do you love with all your mind and strength?

The biblical word for mind is “dianoia” and means “exercising the mind, to think through.” Loving God and others is not a blind leap of faith. It’s a step of faith based on the facts of God’s Word and character. Faith is not irrational; it is supra-rational. It doesn’t go against reason; it goes beyond reason. God is not asking us to commit intellectual suicide to become a Christian. He created our minds and expects us to use them in our relationship with Him and others. If I am to hit the target in my relationships, I need to engage my mind.

Too often, though, we begin to take even our closest relationships for granted and disengage our minds. We’re not all there intellectually. We allow distractions to cloud our thinking. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard your wife or husband or kids say to you, “I told you about this, but you weren’t really listening.” They are right. We let our minds drift, thinking about something else rather than being mentally all there. Are you all there intellectually, or are you thinking about other things when someone is talking to you? Be honest. I even struggle with this when I read the Bible sometimes. When I catch myself, I realize that I can’t remember what I just read.  Be intentional. Focus on what the person is saying or on what you are reading at the time. Engage your mind on that subject alone. You can’t think about two things at the same time. Learn to love with all your mind.

Then, love with all your strength. That means that love is something you do. Love is an action. The biblical word for strength is “ischys” and it means “combined focused, all out actions, might.” Does that describe the way you love God and others? It’s more than a warm, fuzzy feeling. The truth is love is not love unless it becomes an action.

“For God so loved, He gave ….”  

You can give without loving, but you will never truly love without giving. Love always costs you something. Consider your actions. In what ways do they communicate love for God and others? What actions could you take today to express your love? Ask God for His power and do it.