The greatest command is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Therefore, the greatest sin is to not love God with all our heard, soul, mind and strength. What does that mean to love God in this way?
I have found the commentary by Adam Clarke on loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength to be very sobering and enlightening and an excellent guide for me to use to evaluate my affections. Adam Clarke ministered in England from 1782 until his death in 1832, a fruitful 50 years of ministry.
The commentary expounds upon Matthew 22:37 where Clarke begins by saying, “This is a subject of the greatest importance, and should be well understood, as our Lord shows that the whole of true religion is comprised in thus loving God and our neighbor.”
Below I have paraphrased Clarke’s commentary to fit modern English and our culture. I trust you will find it to be a blessing as I have over the years.
Thou shall love the Lord—
He loves God with all his heart
- loves nothing in comparison of Him,
- and nothing but in reference to Him;
- is ready to give up, do, or suffer anything to please and glorify God;
- has everything in their heart; love, hatred, hope, fear, inclination, desires, delights- related to God, and are regulated by Him.
He loves God with all his soul, or rather, with all his life,
- is ready to give up life for his sake;
- is willing to endure all sorts of torments;
- is willing deprived of all kinds of comforts, rather than dishonor God;
- utilizes life with all its comforts, and conveniences, to glorify God;
- life and death are nothing, but as they come from and lead to God,
- From this Divine principle sprang the blood of the martyrs, which became the seed of the Church. They overcame through the blood of the Lamb, and loved not their lives unto the death.
He loves God with all his strength
- exerts all the powers of his body and soul in the service of God;
- who, for the glory of his God, spares neither labor nor cost in His service;
- sacrifices time, body, health, ease, for the honor of God: the Divine Master;
- employs in his service all goods, talents, power, credit, authority, and influence for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.
He loves God with all his mind (intellect)
- applies himself only to know God, and His holy will;
- receives with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which God has revealed to man;
- studies no art nor science but as far as it is necessary for the service of God, and uses it at all times to promote His glory;
- who forms no projects nor designs but in reference to God and the interests of mankind;
- banishes from understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and dangerous thought, together with every idea which has any tendency to defile the soul
- thinks of God at all times—having his mind continually fixed upon God, acknowledging Him in all his ways
- who begins, continues, and ends all his thoughts, words, and works, to the glory of God’s name.
This is the person who loves God with all their heart, life, strength, and intellect; they are crucified to the world, and the world to them: they live, yet not they, but Christ lives in them.
Source: Adam Clarke commentary on the New Testament