Modest minds

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). As much as Scripture strictly forbids adding or subtracting from God’s words (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19), Jesus being the Word and adding the mind to this command is compelling. From Old Testament readings, you’ll notice the parallel verses make a similar charge, but that our minds aren’t included in the list. Beginning with Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and Deuteronomy 10:12, 11:13, 30:6, Joshua 22:5; these all repeatedly command us to love and serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls, but still no mention made of our minds. Perhaps I may come across additional verses as I read on, but that these were all without the call to love God with all our minds was notable considering the gospel verses (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) all include it and footnote Deuteronomy 6:5 as their reference. Is it a coincidence that Jesus added the mind in the New Testament verses? There are no coincidences in Scripture, but the interpretation and insight as to why we see these supposed anomalies appear is always relevant.

We often find Jesus elaborating, deepening, broadening, and digging into the heart of the meaning for the commands God gave us throughout Old Testament Law. He calls us out in many ways by sharing that our thoughts, motivations, and heart intentions are the injurious core issues that bleed out into sinful actions. With this, to love God with all our hearts, souls, and now, minds, I believe He has brought that command to the next level. Christ adds that our minds are to be consumed with love for God. Could that be interpreted as we are to develop a desire to engage our minds with a love for theology? A love for knowing more about the God we worship by studying His Word and all that It entails. This, rightly so, needs to be included in our furtherance to know Him. Not only to read the Bible that is the only authority on His truths, His character, His desires, but to infiltrate that with supplemental reading material used to exercise our minds on using the discernment and consciences that He created only humans with.

Too often I hear from Christians that doctrine and theology are unimportant or unnecessary. To love Jesus Christ and keep the focus of our hearts on Him is the surefire way to honor God. This sentiment is true and fitting with the “love God with all your hearts” portion of Deuteronomy 6:5; however, to zero in on Jesus requires us to adhere to His added command that we love God with all our minds as well. His inclusion of the mind is overwhelmingly appropriate as it is our minds that steer our hearts and souls towards whatever direction we’re set on course to follow. Our minds are the helm of our hearts, from them come the thoughts that control and have a massive effect on where our hearts lead us. It only takes a seemingly fleeting thought to root itself in our heads and, if we allow ourselves to nurture it, it’ll take hold and possibly grow into an obsession that hurts us and the God who knows every thought we have (Psalm 139:2,4). How could “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and (we) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) without having the knowledge of God required to do so? Theology. The study of God. We must study Him to love Him more fully as He’s called us to.

When our hearts are full of love and devotion for God, our souls are sealed with His promises, and our minds are busy with thoughts of Him that aren’t dependent on our ever shifting feelings, but on the solid foundation of the studies of Scripture to bring us to a concrete knowledge of Him, it would be then that we’d be on course to fulfilling the command to love Him. If we choose to neglect, or set up a personal hierarchy for the three elements listed in this command, we’re not only missing out on the fullness that loving Him can be, but we’re bound to continue slipping when challenged with incorrect doctrine.

To have a love for theology, by learning about God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, by amassing information on the various doctrines and discerning between which are biblical or heretical, by reading books rich in their exploration of engaging our minds regarding God’s Word, is not the same as religious politics. In fact, by doing all of the above, the politics surrounding religion become a bore in comparison to gaining the inexhaustible knowledge of God. We can never know all we need to about Him. Never. The study of God has always been and will always be ongoing, unceasingly challenging to any mind willing to dive in. As with the definition of modest, to imply that interest in theology is unfruitful is to imply that a limited knowledge of God is adequate enough to get you where you need to go. Knowing God with all your mind perfectly complements knowing Him with all your heart and soul, as our thoughts on theology generate a spark that will “not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), but only serve to fan the flame and keep it burning as each moment of our lives subsists.

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