When I went to Bible College and seminary, the emphasis of most of my classes and training was to become a specialist. There were no general pastoral degrees. Everything was focused on whether you were a youth pastor, an executive pastor, a children’s pastor, and so on.
One of the things I want to do was to become a lead pastor, someone who could either help others succeed in those individual departments or lead a group of pastors doing those individual things.
We focus so much time and energy on every part of something rather than the whole anymore. My vision for pastoring was certainly in the minority when I received my pastoral training. And in the same way, much of what people do today is focused on the parts and specialties rather than the whole.
But God is not interested in just the parts of you. He is interested in your whole person, your whole being. While we have been talking about the biblical mind and what all is entailed in it, I want to take a step back and talk about how we can worship and serve God with our whole being. In fact, that’s exactly what he wants.
Worship and Service
In Deuteronomy 6, Moses tells the people of Israel to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4). You really have to break down what each of these words mean in the original language to get the full understanding of what Moses challenges the Israelites to do.
Later in the New Testament, one of the legal scholars asks Jesus with the greatest commandment is (Mark 12:28). Jesus answers with the same thing that Moses talked about in Deuteronomy 6. But Jesus adds “mind” to his list.
When we talk about worshiping and serving God, he is not interested in only one part of us. He must be Lord of the whole person. So many Christians do not commit their whole being to God regularly.
And yet when we worship the Lord, loving him through worship and service, our whole person must be involved in the endeavor. If we do not present a full commitment to the Lord, we are not honoring him.
The Whole from the Parts
When you consider the parts individually, they are not nearly as powerful as the whole system. We can examine a system part by part, but it’s real value comes in operating as one whole unit, a complete system.
The parts themselves may be lackluster. There may be nothing special about some of the parts. As we consider the body, the parts are not nearly as important as the whole body working as one. Military units often talk about moving as one person. If it can be managed, the whole is more powerful than the parts in unison.
So when we come to the idea of worshiping the Lord with the four parts that Jesus mentions, our heart, soul, mind, and strength, or body, he is pointing to the whole person. When he says “all of your” followed by part, we should probably understand it to mean “whole” instead of “all.”
We have talked about these different divisions before. The heart in the Hebrew thinking contains the mind as the intellect, decision making part, and the emotions. The soul is what makes a person that person. It contains everything from the personality to the attitude. The strength refers to the body, the part of us that moves before the Lord in worship and service.
So the question must be, “Why did the Lord add ‘mind’ to the list?” I don’t see too many people discussing this, but my short answer is that we do not think of our mental faculties when we worship the Lord and serve him.
Many of us don’t realize the importance of meditating on Scripture, studying the Scriptures in depth to learn and understand God better, thinking God’s thoughts after him, and using our minds to glorify him in our thought processes and results.
Using our minds in the endeavor of following after God is just as powerful an act of worship and service as what we do with our hands and feet. Using our minds to glorify God is pleasing to him.
I think one of the other reasons Jesus included the mind specifically is that the scholar who is asking him this question is trying to trip him up. It’s almost like Jesus is reminding the scholar, one who studies the Scriptures, that using the mind is what he is not doing when he addresses the greatest commandment.
For whatever reason Jesus included the mind separately from the heart, which every Hebrew would’ve clearly understood in saying “heart,” he did it for a reason. I don’t think his reason had anything to do with the New Testament being written in Greek, since Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic and Hebrew writers of the New Testament used “heart” in the Hebrew understanding.
We must apply our emotions, our mental capacities, the inner parts of us from soul and spirit, and our bodies to worship and serve the Lord. We must connect with him on every level and fiber of our being. No part of us should be left behind as we worship and serve him.
Devotion and Commitment
Worshiping and serving the Lord with our whole being is a full commitment and devotion to him. We commit ourselves, every part of us and as a whole, to the Lord. We leave nothing off the table. Like David, we dance before the Lord with all of our might. We don’t care what anyone else thinks as we worship and serve him.
As my youth pastor used to say, we worship the Lord with reckless abandon. We put all of the questions about what it looks like or how silly we might be aside. Our only concern is that the Lord sees our effort to devote ourselves to him.
I often close my eyes in worship. I don’t want to be looking around at what other people are doing. The Lord never says to mimic the actions of others. It’s what he tells you to do in worship and service.
So even though our whole person is involved, our worship and service is completely individual and unique. Even within a corporate setting, the Lord may ask us to do something that no one else is doing. This is the true test of our commitment. Are we willing to do whatever the Lord says the matter how it looks to anyone else?
After all, we’re not interested in what others think of our worship and service. We worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ alone. We must not be concerned with the thoughts of others and their opinions. When the Lord says to do something, do it with your whole being.
The point of devotion and commitment is to not be concerned with anyone else. When the Lord speaks, we listen and obey. We commit our whole person, every part of us, to everything he tells us to do. This is how we show our love and obedience to him.
So as we come to the end of thinking about the importance of the mind as well as the other parts of us, it is just as important as every other part. But even more important is bringing our whole self to the Lord in worship and service.
He expects nothing less from us. And when we bring less than our whole being, we only offer a half-baked, half-hearted approach to the Lord. He spoke out against the way the Israelites would do everything that was written in the law for sacrifices and offerings and yet their true self, their whole self, was not in it.
It was just for show. Their hearts were with idols. We must make sure that we come before the Lord and offer him all that we are and have. Leave a comment and tell me the steps you take to make sure you offer your whole being to the Lord in worship and service regularly.