We often refer to our hearts as the center of our emotions. We express love, joy, and well-being from a happy heart, and experience all kinds of negative emotions from a broken heart. From this point of view, to “Love God with all your heart” centers around the love and commitment we feel for Him in our hearts. It is often referred to as a Greek or Western mindset, but the Hebraic viewpoint is quite different.
Heart – “Lev” לב – Hebraic Interpretation
The Hebrew word for heart is “Lev” לב. It is written with the Hebrew letters, Lamed ﬥ and Bet ב.
ל – Lamed, depicts a shepherd’s staff and represents authority.
ב – Bet, depicts a tent or house in which a family lives.
Together these letters mean, having authority within.
From a Hebraic perspective, our hearts represent our total inner being, our mind, will, and emotions. In our hearts, we contemplate our deepest thoughts and intent, and from it flows our actions.
“I, Adonai search the heart; I test inner motivations; in order to give to everyone what his actions and conduct deserve.” Yirmeyahu – Jeremiah 17:10
He too taught me; He said to me, “Let your heart treasure My Words; keep My command, and live; Mishlei – Proverbs 4:4
Yeshua, knowing what they were thinking, said, “Why are you entertaining evil thoughts in your hearts?” Mattityahu – Matthew 9:4
The Greatest Commandment
When Yeshua Messiah – Jesus Christ our Savior, was confronted by a Torah expert (first 5 Books written by Moses), asking Him which of the commandments is the most important? He quoted from the book of Deuteronomy and said, “to love Adonai your God with all your heart…”
The covenant is based on a relationship with Adonai, and “with all your heart” means to follow and obey His commandments in love, and not out of fear. It underlines His central argument against the Pharisees and Sadducees of His time, as they turned Torah obedience (obedience to God’s commandments) into loveless legalism.
but when the P’rushim (Pharisees) learned that he had silenced the Tz’dukim (Sadducees), they got together, and one of them who was a Torah expert asked a sh’eilah (question) to trap him: “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, ” ‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (commandment). Mattityahu – Matthew 22:34-37
Yeshua Messiah – Jesus Christ our Savior, quoted from the Shema Prayer in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is until today, recited twice a day during the morning and evening prayer meetings in Judaism, and is seen as the core of the Hebrew faith.
“Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. D’Varim – Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Love God with All Your Heart
To love God with all our hearts means much more than an emotional love, or faith. From the Scriptures it is clear, that love from our hearts includes our thoughts, contemplations, decisions, intentions, and actions. We express our whole inner being in all we do.
In the same way, loving God means to love His heart, thoughts, contemplations, decisions, intentions, and actions.
When we try to live according to the Word of God, because He requires it of us, our lives become legalistic and burdensome. We cannot call that, “loving Him with all our hearts.”
God is righteous, and righteousness is one of His expressions of love. To love Him, we need to love righteousness, and love to do what is right. His teachings, directions, and commandments are all grounded in love, to cherish, love and bless us with a good life. Out of love they were given, and only through love can they be followed and obeyed.
Here is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God, we also do what he commands. For loving God means obeying his commands. Moreover, his commands are not burdensome, 1 Yochanan – 1 John 5:2-3
We are not saved by works of righteousness; by His grace and mercy, we were saved. It is important to know that righteous living is an outflow of our relationship with the Lord. After salvation, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our hearts. Righteous living is a result of this renewed life.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them. Ezra 36:26-27
I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you. In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the `olam hazeh (this world). Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. Romans 12:1-2
As we treasure Him in our hearts, we live righteously as an outflow of our relationship with Him, because doing what is right, is the expression of His love for us and our love for Him.
In this mutual love relationship, we can truly say, “we love Him with all our hearts!”
The paintings in this post were painted by Ivan Guaderrama.