“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37 NLT)
Love is a multi-dimensional process. It’s not simply an emotion, it’s a decision. It involves feelings (heart) but is certainly not dependent upon them. I enjoy playing an old X-Box 360 Golf game, but when I miss a putt the announcer will say, “He’s just not feeling it in his hands.” There are moments, sometimes days, when it comes to loving God well, “I’m just not feeling it in my heart.” It’s on those days I have to rely on my other spiritual tools.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-11: “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Paul understood, as we must, that life is war. John Piper said it well: “You cannot know what prayer is for, until you know that life is war.”
Roman soldiers wore armor to protect them in battle, so Paul carried this metaphor into how we should equip ourselves daily for our battle against the enemy of our soul. In verse 13 in Ephesians 6 he speaks of the purpose of the armor was to enable us to “resist the enemy in the time of evil.” ”Evil,” as used here, is multifaceted, but in this verse likely refers to resisting Satan in whatever way he attacks. Paul writes of “the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness…the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.” Then in verse 18 he writes: “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
What’s my point? There’s never an opportunity for us to let our guard down. When we’re not feeling spiritually vibrant and alive, that needs to be a que that will alert us to imminent danger. When our heart isn’t feeling close to the Lord, that’s when our mind and will need to be activated to protect us. That’s where spiritual disciplines like reading and studying the Bible, prayer and fellowship with other believers is critical. Listening to Christ-centered music or reading devotionals from people of God to encourage and inspire us to stand strong, can also be helpful.
What is so important for us to protect? Regardless of how long we’ve journeyed with Jesus, it’s vital that we continually seek to inform our minds, train our emotions, discipline our body, and feed our soul. Our love of God, as our love of our parents, siblings, spouse, and friends, must by based on more than our feelings. What God gives us in Jesus is eternal and must be protected with every fiber of our being.
Early in marriage, emotions run high and physical pleasure is central, but relationships built on sensual satisfaction alone won’t endure the test of time, thus the high divorce rate, even among believers. It’s similar in our relationship with God. It’s not unusual to be highly charged emotionally when we first make the decision to follow Christ. It’s often in a group environment where the atmosphere is electric, and emotions are running high.
I yielded my life to Jesus during a Sunday night service at church. It was an extremely emotional experience for me. Going home was like riding on a cloud. Then Monday morning came. It was a school day and I felt much like I did on other mornings before school, like I wanted to cover my head and sleep the day away. But as I remembered the night before, though I felt very little emotion, my mind decided: “I’m going to believe what happened last night was real, so I’m going to live like I believe it.” Emotions can’t be trusted, so let your mind and will move you to prayer, trust, truth, and righteousness, living consistently for Jesus whether you feel like it or not.
Blessings, Ed 😊