by Mike Ratliff
37 ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ καρδίᾳ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου· 38 αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ μεγάλη καὶ πρώτη ἐντολή. Matthew 22:37-38 (NA28)
37 And He said to Him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your understanding. 38 This is the great and first commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In v37 (above) the word “heart” translates the Greek noun καρδίᾳ (kardia). It is from this word which, of course, is derived the medical terms such as cardiac and cardiologist. Its significance is enormous.It was used in secular Greek both in the literal and figurative sense, but the figurative was the most profound, picturing the heart as the seat of emotions and spirituality. In Homer’s time (eighth century BC) and onward, however, it took on the even more significant meaning of both spiritual and intellectual life, including man’s will and decision-making.
These meanings flowed naturally into NT usage and provide us with striking applications. Kardia appears in Jesus’ Beatitudes, for example:
8 μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ,
ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται. Matthew 5:8 (NA28)
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God. Matthew 5:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Who is blessed? The one who is pure in feeling, thought, and will.
Carefully read Matthew 22:37-38 again. Our Lord’s words are pointed indeed especially if we keep them within their proper meaning and context. Most people in our time, even Christians, equate the heart with only emotion, which in turn produces “up and down” emotional living and even a desire for emotionalism and entertainment in the church service. But the Christian life is a life not only of feeling, but a life of the mind and will. In fact, there is a closeness of meaning in the NT between heart (kardia) and mind (nous).
The principle, therefore, of our loving the Lord with all our heart is truly the “heart” of living the Christian life. If we really love him with our feelings, our thoughts, and our decisions, that will drive everything we do and say. If we really love Him, we’ll live holy, we’ll desire His Word, we’ll obey Him, we’ll edify and serve others, and the list goes on. In fact, this will cause us to be in a constant state of self-examination, confession, and repentance.
Start today by asking yourself, “Do I really love the Lord?”
Soli Deo Gloria!