Theme of the Week: Strength in the Lord
Bible Verse: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
Scripture Reading: Mark 12:1-44
When Jesus was asked what the first and most important commandment was, He responded by quoting an Old Testament scripture that says to love God. He said it like this in Mark 12:30: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength’.
My initial thought when I read that is, I ask myself, what does that even mean? Like, what does it mean to love God with your strength?
I remember when I was a kid arguing with my next-door neighbor, ‘My dad is stronger than your dad. My dad could beat up your dad.’ And we had an animated argument with each other about whose dad was stronger. Of course, every kid thinks their dad is the strongest in the world. I actually went to my dad and asked him, ‘Dad, would you please go beat up the next-door neighbor? Because I want to prove to him that you are stronger than he is.’ Of course, that didn’t happen.
But even as kids, we have this concept, this understanding of an innate value of strength. It’s an ability to accomplish something. It’s a capacity. It’s something that’s not static. It’s something that moves, that gives motion, and we spend our lives using it. We spend our lives growing it. We spend our lives looking for it, and it shows itself in different ways.
When I think about this passage, particularly loving God with your strength, it reminds me of when I went to Israel a number of years ago. When we were in Jerusalem at the Wailing Wall, there were numerous Orthodox Jews who were praying, and they would hold their prayer book and they would rock back and forth.
I had always wondered why they did that, so I asked our guide, ‘Why is it that when they pray, they’re bowing back and forth like that?’ He said, ‘Oh, that comes from the verse that says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul and your strength.” What they’re doing is by physically exerting themselves during their time of prayer, it’s their way of loving God with their strength. They’re not just praying internally; they’re not just speaking the words out, but they’re engaging themselves physically, and that’s their expression of loving God with their strength’.
I thought that was really quite interesting, but it helped me realize something: strength is an outward thing. You see, this passage of scripture talks about loving God with your heart, with your soul, with your mind, and those are all internal processes. Our attitudes, our words, a lot of things come out of those things. For example, the Scriptures say that ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,’. But strength is the only piece of this verse that is specific to an outward expression.
Our faith was not meant to be lived only inwardly. Our love for God was not meant to be hidden. Our love for God was meant to be displayed, expressed, lived out loud. So He doesn’t just tell us to love Him in our hearts, but He tells us to love Him with our strength. He tells us to demonstrate our love for God.
Prayer: Dear God, I want to love you with everything I have. Including my strength. Please help me learn to love you strongly and grow in this way. Take what I have and use it for your glory.
Reflection: How do we make sure that we don’t make it all about us and our abilities and our strength, but how is it that we tap into God’s strength and bring honor to him?
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