The Scriptures are clear that our heart remains central in loving God and Christ. We must ‘keep our heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life‘ (Prov. 4:23). Those who are good will have goodness stored up in their hearts (Luke 6:45). God requires this purity of heart of those who love and worship Jesus. Indeed, only these pure ones will see God in the face of Christ, whether in this life by faith or in the life to come by sight.
We are to love Jesus, not only with all our hearts, but also with all our soul. In our devotion to Christ, our soul is responsible for our highest spiritual exercises. It is the seat of our emotional activity. Our Savior’s obedience was nowhere tested more than in the Garden of Gethsemane, where his soul was ‘very sorrowful, even to death.’ The soul expresses the sorrow and joy that inevitably accompany the life of faith. Thus, though we cannot press the distinction too far, it appears that the ‘heart’ relates to the will and the ‘soul’ to the emotions. To know Christ involves our will and emotions.
To love with our whole mind involves the seat of our intellectual life. However, this also means loving him with the right dispositions and attitude that places our intellect in submission to Christ’s revelation about himself, not only by thinking about him, but also by subjecting our thinking to his revelation. Moreover, because of our finiteness, we shall never reach a point where we have no need to learn more about Jesus.
God gave the ‘servant’ of Isaiah 50:4 (Jesus) ‘the tongue of those who are taught.’ Morning by morning God awakened the servant to teach him. The servant’s love for God meant that he applied not only his heart and soul, but also his mind. If it was necessary for Jesus to receive instruction so that he could love God with his mind, how much more is it necessary for us as his people?
Loving Jesus with all our strength brings together all of the various elements. Our heart, soul, and mind remain distinct in the words of Christ, but in reality they should not be over-analyzed to the point that we think of them as three separate parts of who we are. To love God with all our strength, then, is to do so with all of our being, which involves the whole person, both body and soul.
– Mark Jones