Faith, God, Love

The God who refreshes our soul and renews our mind

Jesus says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Loving God with all our heart and strength does not require much explanation because that is how we love our loved ones even though our worldviews and aspirations may differ. We give them our time and attention and go out of our way to make them happy. So how do we love God with all our soul and mind? Is it sufficient to love God with only our heart and strength (i.e. not our soul and mind)?

God’s love for reasoning is clear throughout the Bible. He reasoned with His prophets Abraham, Moses, Jonah and Isaiah, and Jesus reasoned with the crowd using stories and parables. Abraham tried to negotiate with God to spare the city of Sodom (Gen 18). Moses tried to reason with God why he was the right person to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exod 3). God reasoned with Jonah why the city of Nineveh was to be spared (Jonah 4). Isaiah wrote: “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord” (Is. 1:18). Jesus reasoned with the Pharisees why he came from God and not from Beelzebul (Matt 12:25-29). He also reasoned with the devil using quotations from the bible when he was tempted in the desert (Matt 4:1-11). Hence, I think it is important that we love God with all our mind as it is the faculty for reasoning.

We love the Lord with all our soul by living a life of faithfulness to all that the Lord has required of us (see John 14:15, 31). The soul literally is the part of us that defines who we are. The essence of the biblical definition for soul means life, personality, the inner self and our identity. To love the Lord with all your soul means to love Him in the way we live, in the choices we make and in the behaviour and lifestyle we adopt.

Sometimes the thoughts of denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Matt 16:24) can seem so daunting if our soul and mind are not connected with the Lord’s. However, He can refresh our soul (Psal 19:7;23:3) and renew our mind (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23; Col 3:10) if we let Him. Didn’t Jesus say: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29)?

When we are open to God’s grace, He refreshes our spirit when we are exhausted, wearied, troubled, anxious, worn down with care and toil. He renews our mind, giving us new perspectives and feelings. For example, God inspired King David to compose many of the psalms contained in the Book of Psalms.

We do not know when David wrote Psalm 19. Perhaps it was one morning when he had been out all night with his sheep. He saw the sunrise over Moab. What David saw spoke to him about God. He remembered the stars that he saw at night. God made the stars. In the morning David saw the sun. God made the sun. All that David saw told him about God. He heard no words, there was no language. But David knew that everything was telling him about God.

Then David remembered something else. He remembered the word of God. David only had the start of the Old Testament, but it told him about God, and that refreshed his soul (Psal 19:7). It also made David think. It made him say to himself, “Am I a good or bad man?” He prayed that God would forgive him. David was, perhaps, sitting on the top of a great rock. That spoke to him about God as well! God was like a rock to David. So David called God “My Rock”. He also called God his Redeemer. A Redeemer is someone that pays the price to make a slave free.

God gave St. John visions of a new heaven and a new earth where God will dwell among men and wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be death, mourning, crying or pain (Rev 21:1-4). The Apostle Paul had the idea of all people of God uniting together to form a holy temple of God where His spirit dwells (Eph 2:20-22). He told the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)

Similarly, God inspired St. Augustine to write the book “City of God” which presents human history as being a conflict between what Augustine calls the City of Man and the City of God, a conflict that is destined to end in victory of the latter. The City of God is marked by people who forgot earthly pleasure to dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God, now revealed fully in the Christian faith. The City of Man, on the other hand, consists of people who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of the present, passing world.

There are many ways God can refresh our soul and renew our mind if we allow Him. The people of Jesus’ hometown were amazed by his wisdom and wondered where it came from. (Matt 13:54; Luke 2:47) With new visions and insights from God, we will have a greater sense of purpose to do whatever He tells us (John 2:5). Only then can we truly say that our love for the Lord our God is complete.

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