Warmth in Giving

Read Matthew 22:34-39.

When the Pharisees came to test Jesus, they asked Him what the greatest commandment in the Law was. They were hoping to drive a wedge between Jesus and the crowds who were following Him. But Jesus didn’t hesitate. He told them plainly: The greatest commandment is the Shema: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5).

Of course, the Jews in Jesus’ day knew this commandment. They memorized it. They wore it on their wrists and on their foreheads. They placed it on the doorframes of their homes. They knew this command backward and forward. But they didn’t live it out.

To love God with an all-consuming love is to obey His Word; it’s to obey Him unconditionally. Jesus, in quoting this verse known as the Shema in Jewish tradition, highlighted three ways we are to do this: with our hearts, with our souls, and with our minds. Let’s start with the mind.

To love God with all your mind means that you love God with your intellect, that you love God with determination and commitment. The Pharisees and religious leaders who confronted Jesus weren’t doing this. They were loving God with their words and their rituals but not with the totality of their being. If they had loved God with their minds, they would have put Him first and foremost in their lives. They would have obeyed Him fully.

In another place, Jesus made it very clear to His disciples, saying, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). Obeying requires a decision of the mind. It is a determination. It means you’re intentionally choosing one thing over all other options. If your will is in gear and ready to go—if you love God with all your mind—all of the other ways of loving the Lord are going to fall in place.

But friends, here’s a word of warning: Past failures are like chains that will hold you back and keep you from growing in your love for Jesus. When you let the past be the past and you focus your attention, your mind, your will, and your desire on loving Jesus, you will be amazed at what He will accomplish in you. God will open doors to things you once thought were impossible.

Prayer: Father, I ask that You would empower me to receive Your grace to cover my failings so that I will not be hindered from growing in my love for You. May all of my mind be occupied ith You so that I become less and Christ becomes more in me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Jesus replied, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment’” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon Growing in Your Love for Jesus, Part 3: WATCH NOW

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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