“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” — Mark 12:29-30
The Greek word which we translate here as “soul” is psyché. It overlaps significantly with kardía, with psyché also referencing one’s inner life. But while the English word “soul” has overtones of the ineffable and abstract, psyché has a more practical nuance. It is the “living self with all its drives, not the abstract notion,” and the “earthly existence in contrast to supernatural existence; one’s life on earth.” With this understanding, psyché is how who we are at our core is put into actual action.
Kardía is our deepest identity.
Psyché is how that identity is shown in our interactions with the world.
This is consistent with the psychological understanding of the English word “psyche” as “the center of thought, feeling, and motivation, consciously and unconsciously directing the body’s reactions to its social and physical environment.” Kardía is the root of the tree, seen by God alone. Psyché is the branches, the leaves, the fruit available to be observed by the world.
Just as our actions unsupported by a robust love of God will not prosper for long, scripture also tells us that “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). If a tree is cut down to the ground, the roots will eventually wither and die. Heart needs soul. And soul needs heart. In his book Incarnate, Michael Frost puts it this way: “An inner conviction or feeling is only worthwhile to the degree that it is embodied in action.”
Loving God with all our soul means to actively seek ways to have our leadership behaviors increasingly reflect God’s grace and love. This is not a sterile, bookish theology, but a lived one! Just as the health of a tree’s roots can be seen in the health of its trunk and branches, so the health of our love of God can be seen in our words and actions.
How well do you feel your life recently has been reflecting God’s love?