“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
And last, but not least, today we’re looking at what it means to love God…
… with all your strength.
The Greek here is ischys. It describes the ability of a person, their strength, their might. Whatever our capabilities are, we are to use them for the glory of God. In this way, we demonstrate how we love God with all our ischys.
Ironically, this is where many leadership books begin — both secular and Christian. There are countless inventories for spiritual gifts, and a large selection of strength/weakness assessments. A person wishing to know his or her leadership ischys will have ample opportunity to do so.
But there is an excellent reason this comes after loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. It is way too easy for us to take our strengths for granted if we did not first realize that the reason we have abilities and talents is that they are gifts from a loving God.
“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.”
Jesus is our leader, our example… and this is exactly how he led.
Jesus’s kardía — his heart, his core —
was firmly rooted in the self-giving love of God.
Jesus’s psyché — his soul —
was demonstrated through his gracious words and actions every day of his life.
His diánoia — his mind —
was shown in his deep knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures,
which he both studied and taught.
And his ischys — his strength, his abilities —
were the most perfect to ever reside in a human form.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” It is a phrase strange to the modern ear: “a living sacrifice.” But I believe that is exactly what Jesus is taking about in Mark 12. To lead as a living sacrifice — a breathing, walking-around-the-world sacrifice — means inviting God into all of who we are, reaching out to God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
When our leadership truly reflects how we love God with who we are at our deepest core, with our words and actions, with how we use our intellect and our abilities, then, and only then, does the next thing Jesus says make sense: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
And — stay tuned — that climactic commandment is up next!
What strengths, gifts, and abilities do you have? How are you using them for God in your life right now?