This article addresses what it means to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul based on Matthew 22:37-38. It also answers the question what is love and who are we to love?

Today we start a four-week series of messages dealing with what should be first in our lives. The Bible describes several things that should take priority in our lives. The four we are going to look over the next few weeks are…

  • First Love: This focuses on becoming a lover of God (Matthew 22:37-38). We will look at this today.
  • Next week we will examine our First Serve: This emphasizes becoming a servant of people (Matthew 20:27). Jesus said, “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28, NLT). The road to the top is paved with service.
  • Then we will take a look at First Forgive: which deals with becoming a forgiver of people. Jesus said, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against…” (Mark 11:25, NLT).
  • Finally we will give our attention to First Pray: This will focus on becoming a prayer warrior for people. We are told in 1 Timothy 2:1, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” (NLT).

Today we are going to focus on the first commandment and where Jesus introduces our first love. Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38, NLT). Let’s answer three questions.

What is love?

The first question is, “What is love?” When Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” He was quoting a key passage from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is primarily written in Hebrew and the New Testament is primarily written in Greek. So Jesus quotes a Hebrew statement in Greek. By doing so, we are able to get a richer and deeper insight about this word “love” and what it means. So, what is love?

  • Love is a choice (Hebrew: aheb).

First, love is a choice. We see this in the Hebrew word aheb.  It is an act of the mind and will. It is the determined care for the welfare of something or someone. It can include strong emotion, but it is a clear and firm decision to be committed toward someone.

It is the type of love that recognizes and chooses to follow that which is righteous, noble, and true, regardless of what one’s feelings in a matter might be or the consequences. This love is a decision that one makes.

In your relationship with God you make a decision, a choice, to love Him or not. You make a choice to obey Him or not. You make a decision to listen to Him or not. You make a choice to do what He says or not, to care about what He cares about or not. Love is a choice and we demonstrate our love for God or lack of love for God in the choices and decisions we make every day.

  • Love is a commitment (Greek: agape).

Secondly, love is a commitment. While aheb emphasizes the choice that love makes, agape emphasizes the commitment that love makes. Agape love is the intelligent, purposeful, and committed love that is an act of the will. This committed love is an all-in type of love. There is no going back. Jesus expressed this love toward the Father when He said, “Not my will, but your will.” He was committing Himself to the cross and God’s plan. At the same time the Heavenly Father was demonstrating His commitment and love to you. Romans 5:8 says, “God showed His great love [agape] for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT).

Who are we to love first?

This brings us to the second question, “Who are we to love first?” Jesus said you are to love “the Lord your God.” Jesus was not speaking of loving whatever God you happen to acknowledge, as long as you love a god then all is well. Jesus had a specific God in mind. We see two things here.

  • We are to love the “Lord”

We are to love the “Lord.” We are to love God as our Lord. The word “Lord” means master or sovereign. The title suggests supreme authority and supreme rule. Our love for Him should identify Him as our master, supreme ruler. This is why Jesus said things like, “If you love Me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15, NLT). If a person loves the Lord, they will want to obey Him.

  • We are to love our “God”

We are also told that we are to love the Lord our “God.” The name “God” highlights everything about Him. The name “God” is a catch-all name for everything that God is. We must remember we are in love with the God of the universe. We are in love with our creator and He is perfectly holy, absolutely faithful, and incredibly loving. He is our guide, counselor, provider, shelter, rock, and fortress. He is our heavenly Father. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present.

Notice Jesus said that you are to love the Lord “your” God. He is “your” God. He belongs to you and you belong to Him. There is a personal relationship between you and Him.

Our first love is to make a choice to commit to the one true Lord who is our God.

How are we to love?

This brings us to our third question, “How are we to love?” What kind of love are we talking about? Jesus tells us we are to love the Lord our God “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.” In the big picture, this simply means with everything you have and with everything you are. However, I think it would be helpful to dissect this phrase into three parts and examine each aspect a little closer.

  • We are to love God with the heart: doer, will

First, we are to love God with our heart. This refers to the core of who you are, but with an emphasis on the will. The will deals with your behavior, actions, and choices. It deals with what you do.

When it comes to the heart, the will, our actions and behavior the Bible says some interesting things. For example…

Jesus said in Matthew 12:35, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (NLT). Good behavior, good actions, and good choices come from a heart that is committed to God.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:20, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (NLT). You can tell where a person’s heart is based on what they say and do.

We are told in 1 Peter, “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world” (2:12, NLT). When your heart loves God the unbelievers in your life will notice your honorable behavior.

We are told in James 1:22, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (NLT). A heart committed to God has a hunger to do the Word of God, apply the Word of God to one’s life.

All that deals with our heart in some way. Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Align your will, behavior, action, and choices with what God wants you to do.

  • We are to love God with the soul: feeler, emotions

Secondly, you are to love God with your soul. The term “soul” is closest to what we would call emotion and is the word Jesus used when He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested. Jesus said, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38, NLT). When we are talking about the soul we must include our emotions, feelings, attitudes, and convictions. Jesus is saying let your emotions, feelings, attitudes and convictions express your love for Him. It’s okay to get emotional about Jesus and the things of God. Let’s talk about our soul in regards to our emotions and feelings.

  • Proverbs 3:21-22 says, “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace” (NLT). When someone says they feel refreshed on the inside, they are usually referring to their emotions. They feel better emotionally. They are happier, more content. God wants your emotions to be involved in loving Him.
  • Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (NLT). If you want to encourage someone and uplift someone speak to their soul. God says kind, loving, encouraging words are sweet to the soul.
  • Romans 14:23, “But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning” (NLT). There were certain things that people had been taught were sin, but actually were not. One of those things they had been taught was that if you ate meat that had been offered to an idol you would be sinning. Paul would come along later to explain that it was okay to eat that meat and there was nothing wrong with it. However, if you still believed it was a sin to eat it then it would still be a sin to you. A “conviction” is something you feel is either right or wrong. If you feel that something is wrong and you do it, that is sin to you. To love God with all your soul is to follow your convictions based on the truth you know and understand.
  • Ephesians 4:21-24, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy” (NLT). Your attitude is a part of your soul and you want to love God will all your attitude. Because we all have a bad attitude about something the Spirit of God is going to need to renew our attitudes. This is part of loving God with our soul.

We are to love God with all our soul… all our emotions, all our convictions, all our attitudes.

  • We are to love God with the mind: thinker, mind

Finally, we are to love God with the mind. This deal with our intellect, our understanding, and our thinking. Let’s take a look at what God says about our mind and thinking.

Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). There are certain aspects of God’s will that you will not and cannot understanding without a change of thinking. To love God with all your mind means to allow God to change your thinking. To love God with the mind is to let God change the way you think.

Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). A mind that loves God is not thinking about how to get revenge, ways to lie about something, or assuming the worst of others. A mind that loves God thinks about what is true (facts, accurate, correct), what is honorable (ethical, respectable), and what is right (authentic, genuine). To love God with the mind is to fix your thoughts on what is true.

2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking everything thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (HCSB). We don’t want thoughts running wild, we want to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ and His truth. To love God with your mind is to take every thought captive.

Proverbs 4:23, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (NCV). God understands the importance of the mind He created. He knows the power and influence of your thoughts. Your best life involves loving God with all your mind.

Love God with all your…





















Jesus said, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38, NLT).

  • If you are here today and you would like to know more about loving God. We would love to talk with you and help you grow spiritually and grow in your relationship with Him.
  • If you are here today and you are not a follower of Jesus and you would like to know more about becoming a Christian then feel free to talk to me, Chris or Kensey. We would love to help you on your journey.