When Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is, He answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This is a well-known Bible verse. But what does it mean to love God with your mind?
Fully devoting yourself to God
“Loving God with your mind” is about your way of thinking, your mindset. As Philippians 2:5 reads: “Think the way Christ Jesus thought” (Easy Read Version). But Jesus does not give you a check list that you can tick off, as if loving God with your mind is something completely different from loving God with your heart or soul. Jesus rather means that your love for Him should encompass all areas of your life, including your mind. Therefore, it is not surprising that other Bible verses mention slightly different aspects:
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
- “And you shall 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)
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)
Having a corrupted mind
Loving God with your mind is not self-evident. On the contrary, people naturally have corrupted minds that don’t love God at all. The Bible is totally honest about this. Let’s list some verses about the human mind:
- “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). “The god of this age” is Satan, God’s arch-enemy. He is the “father of all lies” (John 8:44). He has been deceiving humans right from the beginning, as is described in Genesis 3. And ever since, he is blinding their minds.
- 1 Timothy 6:5 mentions “people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth”. These are people who will teach what is false and will not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Titus 1:15 says something similar: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” These verses describe a clear connection between “not believing” and “having a corrupted mind”. If you don’t believe the truth contained in God’s Word, your thinking degenerates and your conscience is scarred.
- Romans 1:28 makes clear that people’s minds were not corrupted from the beginning, thus making it impossible for them to believe. It’s the other way around: “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased (or: depraved) mind to do what ought not to be done.”
Putting off your corrupted mind
Besides clearly diagnosing our critical situation, the Bible also makes clear that there is hope. God offers us forgiveness and restoration. He wants to heal and renew us. He wants us to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When our minds are renewed by God, we will be able to understand and accept what God wants for us (Romans 12:2, see also Luke 24:45).
Setting your mind on the right things
Besides getting a new understanding of the truth, we should actively set our minds on the right things: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Similarly, Romans 8:5-6 urges us to set our minds on “the things of the Spirit”. God should be our number one priority. We want Him to rule our minds and control our thoughts. Our minds should be filled with the things that He considers good and important. Philippians 4:8 gives some examples: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Such an attitude is honoring God. It expresses our love for Him.
Some advice from the Scriptures
The Bible gives us some advice on how to focus our minds on the right things. God exhorted His people Israel: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8). “The book of the law” was the only part of the Bible written down by then. We have many more Bible books at our disposal, that we can read and study and meditate on and focus our minds on God. This leaves less room to dwell on negative things that pull us away from the Lord. And it helps us to constantly correct our mindset by His Word.
A continuous struggle
There is a constant struggle taking place within our minds between the flesh and the Spirit (Romans 8:5-9). Furthermore, we are not totally free from the effects of sin on our minds on this side of heaven. We are prone to forget things, to become confused, and misunderstand. The reality is that our minds cannot fully comprehend just how distorted our thinking is because of sin.
While our minds may be marred by sin, God shows tremendous patience. Given our sinful thoughts, wrong decisions, and evil plans, God has every reason to strike us down, but He doesn’t. Instead, He shows us grace and mercy (Psalm 145:8). God loves the mind that acknowledges its perpetual need for grace. Our sin may cause us to forget many things, but it also reminds us, as Christians, that we are completely helpless without God.
If you are a child of God, be assured that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
I want to close this article with a beautiful song written by Stuart Townend. It’s called “Christ be in my waking”, and can be sung as a prayer:
“Christ be in my thinking, and my understanding
Guarding me from evil, walking in the light
Jesus, this is my devotion, all my life to know You
Every day to walk with You
Saviour, You’re my deepest longing
You’re the One I live for
Teach me, Lord, to walk with You”