The inquirer is no doubt thinking of Matthew 22:36-37 which reads, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (NKJV). In Mark 12:30 Jesus added the phrase “and with all your strength” (which is also found in Deuteronomy 6:5). Mr. William MacDonald points out: “The heart speaks of the emotional nature, the soul of the volitional nature, the mind of the intellectual nature, and strength of the physical nature. Thus we are to love God with every part of our being.

A scripture that instantly comes to mind is Jeremiah 2:2 where the prophet reminds Israel of the love they once had for the Lord. It says, “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: I remember you, the kindness of your youth, THE LOVE OF YOUR BETROTHAL, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” This verse speaks of the love Israel had for God right after their deliverance from Egypt. They were completely (with all their heart, soul, mind and strength) devoted to the Lord and they were found clinging to Him “as a loving bride clings to her beloved bridegroom.” The world to them was like a wasteland with nothing to satisfy the soul and they found that the Lord alone brought true joy, purpose and satisfaction. Like David they could say, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). Yet in time, their love became cold and later, in Jeremiah 2:13, we read, “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We can surely apply these verses to the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, for we are His bride and He longs for our affections to be directed primarily towards Him (our Bridegroom). He desires us to be faithful to Him as we see in 2nd Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” If He is the supreme Object of our hearts, we will experience, as Israel did, that “He alone brings true joy, purpose and satisfaction” to our lives. Jesus promised as much in John 6:35 and 7:37-38, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But all too often our heart grows cold and we “forsake…the fountain of living waters.” When our affections towards the Lord are chilled we naturally go after the world (for the heart must have an object to fill it) and we find the world to be “broken cisterns that can hold no water.” In other words, nothing in this world really satisfies.

When this happens, we can praise God that He loves us too much to let us “go our own way.” He is faithful (as He was with Israel) to remind us of the love that we once had for Him. This is illustrated in the words of the Lord Jesus to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:4-5, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE. REMEMBER THEREFORE FROM WHERE YOU HAVE FALLEN; repent and do the first works.” Ah, dear fellow-believer, if we have, in any measure “left our first love” (loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength), let us recall the love we had for Him when He first saved us from the penalty and power of sin. He was EVERYTHING TO US at that time, was He not? The world was like a vast wilderness with nothing to charm us; the Lord Jesus was our “fountain of living water” that thrilled and satisfied our soul! This, and this alone, will cause us to “repent and do the first works.” The “first works” refers to the holiness in our lives and the service we gladly did for our blessed Savior who is our “first love.” Our affections (the “heart”) were focused on Him. Our will (the “soul”) was to do His will. Our thoughts (the “mind”) were constantly being renewed through His Word. And our body (our “strength”) was yielded to Him for whatever service He had for us to do. (266.1) (DO)