“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37
I’ll admit it: My heart and emotions have often been my immediate guide. I’m quick to allow feelings to dictate my thoughts, behaviors, and responses to adverse circumstances. The phrase, “Follow your heart” may sound true and safe, but it is deeply flawed. For believers especially, it can be dangerous to be led by fleeting emotion, and be void of critical thought (Romans 12:2). Therefore, it must be defined that worship is not primarily the mind without the heart, NOR the heart without the mind. Both are necessary in treasuring our God. I believe that the intentionality of our transformed minds leading and informing our hearts is of much greater value to our worship. It will cause our worship to be more rich, more stable, and much more accurate.
How can we love that which we do not know? How can we love God if we do not know God? If we “feel” love for God, and yet do not know God, we should question the legitimacy of our love for him. Jen Wilkin says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
“I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” 1 Cor. 14:15
God longs for us to know him and treasure him. If you’re like me, the beginning of you’re love for God was emotional and without great (because we grow in knowledge over time) awareness of who he was. This is not wrong; emotions are designed by God for us in worship. However, I believe our love for him is deepened not with feelings, but with knowledge – knowledge from God – learned by the Scriptures – producing great affection toward him. Only in his words will we cultivate any affection for him, because emotions without truth are empty of affection. As we know more of our God our hearts will be watered and filled, growing into a burning desire and affection for him.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
A.W. Tozer is quoted, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The way in which any human being views God shapes their thoughts, pleasures, and affections. We cannot afford to be lazy in our pursuit of God. We must learn to approach the Scriptures with humility and our minds first, having our minds inform our emotions, creating affections that are glorifying.
Where do we start? The Bible and prayer. Seeking first to learn about God (not to learn more about ourselves) in the entirety of the Bible, and asking him to reveal truth to us. Let us learn to think deeply about our God that we may grow in love for him. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will study with purpose, and our emotions will flood the earth with praise toward our God.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3