This is Day Five 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.
For the last week, we have discovered some important ways in which to engage in a deep and meaningful relationship with God. So far, this week has been enlightening and edifying. The information Holladay gives us shines a light on many areas in myself that require some work and attention. Prayerfully, I have attempted to rectify this in my relationship with Him, but it is a lot more difficult since I am still a work in progress. I don’t seem to want to let go of it ALL and give it to Him.
Today, our study takes us to loving God with all our mind and strength. We have an innumerable amount of thoughts that pass through our minds during any given day. And that is where we focus on when loving God with all our mind. These thoughts may be right, wrong, or indifferent. There is a sentence in this portion that stood out to me today that says,
“At its most basic, to love God with all your mind is to know that God’s thoughts are thoughts of love toward you and to decide that your thoughts will be thoughts of love toward God.”Tom Holladay, The Relationship Principles of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Zondervan 2008), 57
Did you catch that? He thinks thoughts of love toward us! The Creator of the Universe and everything in it thinks thoughts of love and goodness and well-being towards us. How incredible is that!
Holladay points out a verse that he recommends we memorize to help with controlling our thoughts in a right and holy way. Philippians 4:8 says,
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Each of these attributes are further defined and explained over the next few pages. What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy. If we have problems with impure thoughts and daydreams, then we may need to examine what we are putting into our mind through television, books, movies, and magazines. Replacing harmful items with wholesome material and prayerfully reading God’s Word may help to refocus our thoughts onto what is good and pure.
The author raises a good point in this portion. He says that God is not asking us to act like no bad things exist, but on the contrary, He is telling us to turn our thoughts to Him in order to combat evil. He points out Isaiah 26:3, which says,
"He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!"
Turning our attention now to the subject of loving God with all our strength, Holladay succinctly defines this as “where your inner thoughts and feelings touch the outer world.” All in all, this requires trust in God. In order to have the strength needed to love God, we must trust that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. He can do all things. And just because we can’t do something, doesn’t mean He can’t use our lives to help others. When we are weak in areas of our lives, God strengthens us.
The main take-a-way from this section for me is to trust in God that He knows what will happen, and that all that is required of me is to trust in Him. Knowing His will requires inputting His Word into my thoughts and acting upon them. The question(s) the author asks to consider is: “Where have my thoughts been focused lately? What was the last time I asked God to give me the strength to move forward in his power, even though I was feeling weak?” Gosh! Those are some hum-dingers for me to answer. And to be completely honest, it is hard to trust in anyone or anything other than myself. So my main prayer – because I have a lot to talk to God about – is that I trust Him fully and love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..