Jesus’ Demands — Love God with All your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength (#9)

Click to orderNote: these are devotional posts based on John Piper’s new book What Jesus Demands from the World.

Demand #9 — Love God with All your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength

Jesus answered, “The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 12:29-30)

Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.   (Luke 11:42)

But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.   (John 5:42-43)

As I am progressing through the book, I am painfully aware that posting about each chapter slows my reading down. But on the other hand, it causes me to meditate and think on each chapter twice. So I am determined to continue blogging through the demands of Jesus. While I am talking about this series, I should mention that these posts are more than just a summary of Piper. They include some reflection and some rearranging of material for my own benefit. For instance, the alliteration below is not Piper’s. All that is to say you really should get the book, or at least read it online.

The End of Love

This seems a simple point: we are required to love God. But I think it is important. Piper writes:

To love God we must know him. God would not be honored by groundless love. In fact, there is no such thing. If we do not know anything about God, there is nothing in our mind to awaken love. If love does not come from knowing God, there is no point in calling it love for God….

Since love is directed to God and depends upon a knowledge of God, the fact that Jesus is the fullest revelation of God (cf. Jn. 14:7-9, Matt. 11:27) becomes important. As the John 5 passage above indicates, one cannot love God and reject Jesus. Further, the revelation of Jesus will enhance our love for God.

A practical application of this point would be that as our understanding and knowledge of God grows, our capacity to love God more also increases. Thus doctrine is not a hindrance to love, but rather it should increase our love.

The Emotion of Love

Piper states that Jesus “changes our hearts to know God so that we see him as compellingly beautiful.” That phrase “compellingly beautiful” is an attempt to stress the fact that love is inherently emotional. It is not a mere decision. You can’t turn it off and on like a light bulb. You can’t just love spinach, for instance. Something must change inside of you to make you love it. Similarly, you don’t just love baseball, it must be something wondeful to you before you can love it.

More than just a decision, many people talk of love for God in strictly “duty” terms. Verses like John 14:15, 21 are used to emphasize that love is more an action not just a feeling. Some argue that the essence of love for God is love for your neighbors. But as Piper points out, Jesus distinguishes between love for God and love for neighbors when he lists the two most important commandments. So, love for God cannot be defined by love for neighbor. This is not to say they are not connected, however.

Two verses reveal that “love for God is most essentially an experience of the affections, not behavior.” First, Mk. 7:6-7 talks of people who “[honor God] with their lips, but their heart is far from [Him]…”. The external actions that the Pharisees rigorously observed did not make their worship acceptable to God. God expected worship to come from a heart of love. [On the New Pauline Perspective, and its view of the Pharisees, see this recent post.] Second, Matt. 6:24 states “…either he will hate the one and love the other…”, from which we can rightly infer that the opposite of love is hate. The word “despise” is also used in that verse. Both “despise” and “hate” are “strong emotional words”. So in contrast, “loving God is a strong inward emotion, not a mere outward action.”

It is the above reasons, supported by many other verses, which lead Piper to conclude that loving God happens when, “we begin to prefer above all else to know him and see him and be with him and be like him.” In short, “God’s glory becomes our supreme pleasure.”

The Extent of Love

On this point, I am referring to the command to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let me just quote Piper’s conclusion here:

When Jesus demands that we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he means that every faculty and every capacity of our being should express the fullness of our affection for God—the fullness of all the ways we treasure him…. “Heart” highlights the center of our volitional and emotional life without excluding thought (Luke 1:51).   “Soul” highlights our life as a whole, though sometimes distinguished from the body (Matt. 10:28).   “Mind” highlights our thinking capacity.   And “strength” highlights the capacity to make vigorous efforts both bodily and mentally (Mark 5:4; Luke 21:36).”…. the point is that every faculty and capacity that we have should display at every moment that God is our supreme treasure.

The Essence of Love

Quote: “Loving God is most essentially treasuring God.”

The  Endurance  of Love

Piper ends with a warning from Matt. 24:12. In the last days, many people will see their love “grow cold” (cf. Matt. 24:12 NASB). To ensure that our love remains fervent, to ensure that all of our faculties continue to treasure God, we need to “look steadily at Jesus and pray that he would reveal God as compellingly beautiful.” Since Jesus reveals God fully (Jn. 14:9), studying Jesus as revealed in Scripture should help us know God more and love Him more.

To conclude, let us be reminded afresh that love for God is a feeling. And that God is not pleased with mere external worship—He wants our hearts to be fervent towards Him. Let us look to Jesus and trust Him to make God compellingly beautiful to us. Let us ask that God pour His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

—See all posts on, the Demands of Jesus

∼striving for the unity of the faith for the glory of God∼ Eph. 4:3,13 \”¢ Rom. 15:5-7

  1. Please add the rest of Jesus’s sentence. You quote Mark 12 versus 29 and 30 but leave off verse 31. Jesus didn’t break this commandment into verses and number them 29, 30, 31. Some monk did that more than a 1,000 years after his death. Isn’t quoting part of Jesus’s Great Commandment and leaving off the second half doesn’t seem to be fairly quoting Jesus and everyone knows the world need more love for neighbors.

    What would Jesus do? No doubt he would include verse 31 in your quotes.

  2. Winston,

    I appreciate your rather stern comment. All opinions are welcome here. I think you need to step back, however, and see the overall context.

    By all means, I would not want to break verse 31 off and somehow negate its importance. It certainly is important. However, the context of this post and series of posts has to do with the Demands of Jesus. By definition, we are going to be looking at individual commands and look at them piece by piece.

    Also this is based off of John Piper’s book, What Jesus Demands from the World. Piper looked at the command “Love God” separately from the command “Love Your Neighbor”. In fact, he has one chapter (all the chapters are brief) on “Love God”, and 3 chapters on “Love Your Neighbor”.

    So, you can rest easy that we will get to vs. 31 eventually. I have completed 10 posts, covering 11 of the Demands. There are a total of 50 demands covered in the book.

    My not quoting vs. 31 was done because this post was not talking about the command of vs. 31. This “demand” focused on the “Love God with all your heart…” in vs. 29 and 30.

    Hopefully, this context will help you be at peace with my intention not to quote verse 31 in this post.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Bob Hayton

  3. This is the first time I have come across someone actually looking at the first and foremost instruction of Jesus Christ. It is wonderful to see someone actually looking more deeply into the real message of Jesus. Perhaps one can step even further into this teaching.

    You gave the examples of loving spinach or baseball. When we look at love in our own practical lives, we most certainly can relate to our own kin. We love our mothers, fathers, sons and wives. This then points to a very important fact, that the act of loving is between two persons. So if we are being taught by Jesus to love God, then God surely has personality, form, character, etc. If I say to you ‘love Jim’ your first and most obvious response would be ‘Who is Jim? What does Jim look like? Where is Jim?’ etc. So, who is God? What does He look like? What is the relationship of love between a person and Him? These are logical questions when one enters the realm of loving relationships. You cannot love air or light, you love a PERSON.

    Unfortunately, most so-called Christians have no entrance into the personality of God, so how therefore can they develop love for a person they have not seen or do not know of His pastimes and activities?

    But this is a long subject with many points, so I will leave it there. But certainly this is food for thought.

    All the best


  4. I first wanna say that i really enjoyed your article, this is what i like to call “Good Stuff” …. well i’m 17 and am at a stage of hunger in my life and I have been asking alot of questions and praying about some things and one is love… Most adults feel like teenagers dont experience real love yet but I know that in Jewish tradition boys married when they became men and that was around 12 years old (i think) in those times… Where I am going, i suppose, is if we love God with ALL our heart, where does that leave room for the persons we love, like wives, children, family, friends? I’m sure there are many opinions but I am only 17 and most of my information comes from people right now, so if He speaks to you please leave a comment under this one if you feel you have an answer for me.

    God bless and thank you,


    • Hi Joe. I have been a Christian since 1969 but I was 17 in 1977 and I remember well being exactly where you are and no one could answer my questions. I want to simply say, as you age and mature, and hopefully know Jesus and His Word better, you will find that when you love Jesus/God more, you will be able to love the others in your life more and in a more healthy way. I became very possessive of my girlfriend at age 17 because I was not praying as I should, loving Jesus as my first love and I had abandoned my family and friends. After she broke up with me, I asked Jesus to never let me become closer to anyone than I am to Him.

      So, Joe, just chill, relax, know that Jesus loves you and that He will lead you to all truth if you seek Him and His Word in your future. Enjoy your youth, live like Jesus commands and you will stay out of trouble and Jesus will bless you richly. When you love others like you should, representing Jesus as a Christian, then this is part of loving God.

      If you do not know Jesus as your personal God, Savior and Friend, go to and click on the icon “How to become a Christian.” There are other great icons you can click on to grow to know Jesus better and learn how to love Him more in a balanced way.

  5. Joe,

    Thanks for commenting. Glad this was good stuff. Ultimately it is the book and its author that the stuff came from! Don’t forget you can read the book online for free.

    Anyways, your comment brings up a good question. We are to love God with ALL of our being. But also we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. And we are to love our wives, and our families. Christ called us to be willing to hate our family and our own life also. How does this work?

    If I love my family, wife, sweetheart, neighbor, MORE than I love God or apart from loving God I have a problem. My love for God should be so all encompassing that every other love I enjoy, I enjoy knowing that it is a gift from God. As I love my family, my 3 little girls and darling wife, as I love them, I need to be rejoicing in my wonderful God who gave them to me.

    Of course this ideal is near impossible to achieve as a fallen human. The Spirit of God helps us, but we will always fall short. But then the Bible calls us to do everything to the glory of God, we are even to eat and drink to God’s glory. Think about that, how are we to drink orange juice to God’s glory?

    If you are interested in learning more, I would recommend John Piper’s excellent book Don’t Waste Your Life. Check out or for more details. It is probably available to read online for free too, but they have a whatever you can afford policy so you should be able to order the physical book even for free if you want. I would encourage you to get and read that book, it will answer these kinds of questions and is full of lots of “good stuff”!

    Blessings from the Cross,

    Bob Hayton

  6. Thanks Bob I appreciate what you say very much and i know what you say comes from the Truth, the word. I will definetly look into this book and hopefully it will be a resource along with my others like Max Lucado and Oswald Chambers. I’m trying to do my homework i guess you can say but ultimately its my passion for Him that I’ll rejoice in. And I’ll drink OJ to God’s Glory becuase it was Him that provided it to me all the way from the orchard.

    I hope your family continues to be blessed and love the website! that WOW GOOD STUFF!

    Thanks again for the good stuff,


    P.S. Good luck with the fantasy football! I’d play but i dont have any time cuz i got the real thing that im busy with in highschool! haha but best wishes to you and God Bless, you’ll hear from me again.

  7. To love the Lord with all your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength is what Jesus demands us to do. But, what exactly is the heart and the soul. I am trying to explain this to some people and I am hung on all your heart and soul. What picture if any can I explain what the heart is and what the soul is? I am waiting on the Lord. Thanks, Lewis

  8. What are some of the most practical steps one can take in finding, developing and maintaing a true love for God.

  9. Basil.
    what a great question!

    Here are the steps that I would take:

    1. Understand fully the grossness of your personal sin towards a holy and righteouss God and Creator

    2. Continue to grow in your understanding of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The more you understand your sin, and then the grace of God in the cross, the more in depth your love for God will be.

  10. Basil,

    Thanks for stopping by. Good question.

    Since the Bible says: “We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19), it follows that the more we understand how He really loved us, the more we will love Him.

    Loving God is something that by nature is hard for our sinful hearts to do. We need grace from God to really love him. As Eph. 3:14-19 teaches, we need spiritual strength from God to really comprehend the love of Christ. And Rom. 5:5 tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

    So if you haven’t truly believed in Christ yet, and have not experienced the Holy Spirit, this won’t make sense. And if that is the case I pray God will reveal the beauty of Jesus to you and grant you deep faith and trust.

    If you have believed, I pray for a greater experience of God’s Spirit giving you deep love for God. Relinquish your strong ties to the things of this world, and recognize the true beauty and wonder of Christ and his abiding joy.

    God bless you in Christ, Basil.

    There are many helpful resources for growing in Christ at some of the websites in my sidebar. Particularly Desiring God Ministries & Enjoying God Ministries

  11. Hi,
    I’m getting in on this a little late but just happened to find it. I am an artist and have been asked by my church pastor to paint during his sermon in April on the Great Commandment.

    Now I have to really think what this means to me, and how I can visualize what I feel.

    Very good problem to have, but also difficult for me.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Thank you

  12. kindly differentiate between Heart and Mind, Soul and Body in the context of Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength

  13. Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed reading it. Recently I encountered a difficult situation. Whenever I pray, I can feel that God loves me so much. However, I did not know how to love him. I overlooked the first commendment and I acted based on the second commendment because I thought the first and the second commendments were the same.However, you gave me a new perspective which I overlooked everytime I read the Bible. Thanks again.

  14. I found your post at a most pertinent time due to the fact that I am beginning an indepth study of the ten commandments, and this post fits right along with that. In reading your post, it brought me to tears to realize that I do not love God with all my heart, soul and mind, and I imagine that most believers do not, as well. I will be getting the book for further study. Thanks for the great insight.

  15. And on another note, praise God for His truly amazing grace. Most of us don’t love Him as we ought. And yet… He still loves us because of His great gift of Jesus Christ.

    Awe-inspiring indeed.

    Thank you Jesus!

  16. Pingback: No Greater Love REMIX 2010 « Raino's Web 101

  17. Now we can know the true God. The woman of Revelation 12 is now here. God is precise: It is a woman Rev 12 that delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God’s promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. She is like unto Moses Num 12:3. She was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, Luke 1:17. As Elijah was alone declaring the true God to the people 1 Kings 18:22 so also her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God she now deliveres to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true testimony of the true value of the blood of the Lamb delivers the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6. Prove all things. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13. Check out the bruising of Satan and the reason for all of mankind’s sufferings.

  18. What a precious gift,God the Father given to us, the Eternal Life through His son Christ JESUS.How much we have to love Him, with the fullness of ourselves. What a amazing Grace, saved by grace and the privilege to call ABA FATHER.

  19. ‘The two great commands’ are the basis for a Christians walk with the Lord. How does one Love the Lord with our heart, our mind, our soul, and strength? I wrote a book about just such a subject. I believe the answer rests in the post resurrection appearances of Christ. Take a look at the book, and I hope that it will help you walk with Him.

  20. Pingback: Exhausted BUT loved. « layitalldown

  21. I think if we are all totally honest, we do not love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Maybe at times we do, but not consistently. Like all the commandments we could not keep, Jesus did keep this commandment in His love to us. He poured Himself out for us. I can see the Lord, scourged, beaten and battered, dragging His cross, with all His strength, with us in mind, He kept going. His unfathomable love for each of us individually, He kept going until it was finished. It was Jesus who loved us with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. And He continues to love us that way.

    I will focus and fill myself on Jesus’ love for me, not on my love for Him. When I focus on how much He loves me, my love for Him is genuine . Only when I first fill up on His love for me, am I capable of loving others. Lord Jesus thank you, I love you.

  22. You left this phrase out of your reference to Mark 12:29 – 12:30

    And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

    30 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”


    You also left out “And Jesus answered him.”