“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30)
In a sense we can obey this commandment when it comes to our strength, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1st Cor. 10:31) Working heartily at whatever task has been set before us with the knowledge that it is the Lord that had been gracious enough to give us the strength that allows us to do so. But this strength is fleeting and will wane as the years decrease. “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” (Psalm 71:9)
We can serve the Almighty if we will keep our mind upon Him. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) If we keep our bodies under subjection, and if we keep every thought captive for Christ.
Both our strength and our mind are not within our complete control though, strength fails and the mind wanders, and so we rely heavily on the Holy Spirit to guide us, to watch over and protect us, to intentionally and for the glory of God place roadblocks in our mind, so that our conscience thoughts do not dishonor the Lord our God.
If we are to love the Lord with all our heart, then our hearts must be fixed on Christ, our emotional responses to Him should be ones of refreshing of our spirit, our heart should be fixed on our High Priest in joy, but also in actions of love. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) The heart that willingly and with joy obeys the Lord is the heart that loves the Lord. It is both external, seen visibly in our lives by others, and internally, expressed with songs in the heart of praise and worship.
But how do we love the Lord our God with all our soul? What differentiates the heart from the soul?
I can only offer you what I have been shown so far in my walk on the path, but I would say that at least in part Philippians 1:21 might be the answer here. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Everything we are, all the time.
Well beyond our strength and mind, past even our heart, our soul is not only willing to die for Christ, but to die each day for Him. It is the epitome of Thy will be done, it is the complete and total surrender of every aspect of our life, everything in it and of it. It is the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Always subjecting oneself willingly to whatever the Lord places in our path, no matter the possible consequences to ourselves.
That, as far as this humble servant can tell, is how we are to love the Lord our God with all our soul.
I cannot do that, perhaps you can, I want to, but I cannot. I believe that when we are glorified, we will be able to do so, but the flesh is a constant enemy, and our adversary does all that he can to divert us away from what we would desire to be in Christ. But that is what we must remember, that is where we are, hid in Christ, we are the righteousness of God in Christ.
Here then would be the only verse that comes to mind when I ponder these truths, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)