This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Vineyard Verses”.
You can listen to the study by clicking here
In this part of our series we are talking about loving God and others. Loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Being All-In. We started the series by talking about loving God with all our heart.
In the Bible, when you read about the heart, it is not about the organ pumping blood inside your chest. The heart is sort of the control panel of our lives. The heart is what motivates us, compels us, moves us, draws us.
We said that we need to make our heart love for God our highest love. It needs to be the area of our lives that is without compromise and yet there are a lot of things in our lives that compete for our highest love.
Today we are going to talk about loving God with all our souls.
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
What does it mean to love God with all your soul?
Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
Let’s try and define the soul.
1. What is the soul?
The soul as that part of you that is not physical. It is the part of you that will live eternally even after your physical body experiences death.
We get a picture of this in Genesis 35 as Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin.
Genesis 35:18-19 (NASB77)
18 And it came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
Notice that in the verse Rachel named her son “as her soul was departing.” This demonstrates that the soul is different from the body and that it continues to live after physical death.
C.S. Lewis said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
Our soul then is the real us. It is what makes us, us.
Matthew 16:26 (NIV)
26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
2. How do we love God with all our soul?
We are to love Him from the very core of who we really are. We said last week that we were to love Him with all our heart, the control panel of our lives, and we are also to love Him from our inner being. Not in a fake, external or pious way.
a. We love Him with a real love
Sometimes we settle for doing things outwardly. But goes wants us to love Him from deep inside, from the core of who we are. He is never satisfied with mere externals or something that can be faked or put on or worked up. He is not interested in our performance; He wants us all in, heart and soul. I love this conversation that Jesus has with Peter to get to the core of Peter after Peter had messed up and denied Jesus three times.
John 21:15-17 (NIV)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
Jesus is using this question of do you love Me to make Peter take a look inside his own soul so that he will settle in his love for Jesus. Peter had denied Jesus three times. Jesus asked the question three times to settle the matter for Peter, to erase the three denials.
b. We love Him with our personality
We need to love God with our entire inner life. With everything that we feel, think, believe, want, choose, pursue. The soul is where we experience life. Our joys, our sorrows, our peace, our anxiousness are all part of what makes up our inner life. It is all of the good, the bad and the ugly that is in us, and God wants us to love Him with all of it. This is why I am such a big fan of the book of Psalms. To me, the Psalms are a book of the soul.
Sometimes, when you read a Psalm, you might be a little shocked at the rawness of how the writer is relating to God. They sometimes sound extremely angry and depressed. They question whether or not God is even there. The Psalms are filled with joy, delight, gladness, fear, worry, anxiety, and frustration. All the things that we actually experience even as believers.
Psalm 63:1-8 (NIV)
1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
These verses express a love for God that is real and passionate. It is an expression of the soul.
c. We love Him with our emotion
We are to love God with all our soul. With a real love that springs from our personality and includes our emotion. God does not avoid emotion, even though we often try to. But emotion is useful because it has a way of moving us back towards God. That is what happens in the Psalms. The writers are angry, scared and frustrated and this ultimately draws them back and closer to God. They are joyful, happy, celebratory, and this also draws them closer to God. Every emotion we experience in life can be a God thing. God does not want you to love Him only when things are going well, He wants you to love Him even when life stinks.
Loving God with all we are is a total love. It is a love that involves our entire being.
Psalm 42:1-11 (NIV)
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. 5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me– a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.