This is Day Three of a deep and meaningful look at what Tom Holladay calls “The Relationship Principles of Jesus“. I will be diving into what this book ultimately explains: the greatest commandments and how they apply to us. At the core of these commandments is relationship. I understand that this may be a lot of information, but it is broken down into 6 sections which are further broken down into 40 days.
Leading up to today, we learned about Jesus called the greatest commandments and how we are to prioritize. Now we can move on to the how, the action, of living in relationship. The portion of Jesus’ sermon on the mount these principles begin come from is Matthew 6:24-33.
"The most important [commandment] ... is this ... 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The Second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Getting on with the first action of these relationship principles is to love God with all your heart. In here, Holladay singles out the word all and how it was related to the heart, soul, mind, and strength. From the beginning of the “Isrealites” (God’s people), This command has been communicated to them over and over again. And yet they still don’t act on it in many situations. Holladay says that the heart is the feeling, the soul is the decision-maker, the mind is where you think, and your strength is where you act/do. He says:
“Heart, soul, mind, strength. Feelings, decisions, thoughts, actions. If you want to change the way you relate to God, your plan must involve these four. If you’re not feeling something about your way of relating to God, deciding something about it, thinking something about it, and doing something about it – then you won’t see any change.”Tom Holladay, The Relationship Principles of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 43.
This is an aspect I never thought quite like this. This portion changed the way I was viewing this command. And this is yet another reason we need to follow Jesus’ example in relating and also explaining core principles to those around you when needed. I am learning this as I go.
By loving God with all of our heart, we must give him all of it. All means all. Not part. All. Remember David who is the writer of many of the Psalms? Reading through them, we can feeling the emotion pouring out of him as he lays out the things of his heart to God. After getting it all out to God, usually he has some sort peace about the problems that he still has to face. One way to begin developing our relationship with God can be to pray with emotion (our heart), and David can be an example of emotional prayer.
There are several things we can do to pray more emotionally: talk to God about our feelings (Ps. 6:6), talk to God about our weaknesses (Ps. 25:16), talk to God about His strengths (Ps. 24: 8), tell God our fears (Ps. 55:5), pour out to God the desires of our heart (Ps. 38:9), openly and emotionally admit our sins to God (Ps. 38:17-18), and say out loud what we know to be true (Ps. 18:1-2). We are prompted to act on these right now – in this moment. And we need to remember that word all from the beginning of this. Holladay says, “The path to putting God first starts with the word all.“
His question at the end is, “Do I tell God what I feel, or do I tell Him what I thing He wants to hear?” That is one of those questions that really gets to the heart of the problem. Being completely honest with ourselves and God is the starting point to building an amazingly powerful and edifying relationship with God and others.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..