Before we dive into answering the question, it will be most helpful to paste the anchor text here, as well as its parallel pericope from Luke 10:27:

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.’
(Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27 NIV)

Some of us might come into this question with preconceived notions that we can compartmentalise the ways we can love God through the distinctive faculties we possess as human beings. Perhaps we think that to love God exclusively with your mind solely means to memorise more and more Scripture into your head. Loving God with only your heart might mean adoring Him for whom He is.

But what we quickly deduce from comparing these two texts is that in Luke 10:27 (and Mark 12:28-34), Jesus makes mention of loving God with ‘all your strength,’; a component that is absent from the relevant passage in Matthew 22:37-39. To me, this immediately indicates that we are not supposed to understand these categories, ‘heart,’ ‘soul,’ ‘mind,’ and ‘strength’ as distinct faculties of the human being, since ‘strength’ can hardly be considered a faculty that constitutes the nature of human beings.

What drives this point even further is that in the usage of the Hebrew word for ‘soul’ in the Old Testament often refers to a description of a person as a whole being. In Genesis 2:7 ESV, we read that “Yahweh God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living [soul] creature.”

So although we obviously recognise the complexity of mankind in all the ways that he is made, I believe what Jesus intended to teach here is that He demands our love for God comes from the entirety of our being. We begin to see how important it is for our human faculties to all sing the same tune in order to properly love God for who He is. We know of many thinking intellectuals who nourish themselves with a whole host of biblical doctrines into their heads, but are devoid of the affections and love that should accompany the hearts of those who come to the knowledge of God’s gracious love and mercy in His Scriptures. We may also know a few others who drive much of their attention to the heightened emotions and praising God for who He is through the sensory experiences in worship, without coming to the Scriptures to actually know who He really is. Compartmentalising the ways we love God by disembodying our human components ultimately diminishes the substance of our worship to Him. We will never love God properly until we see this reality.

So if you were looking to try and find particular ways as to what loving the Lord with all your soul is meant to look like, then I’m afraid there are no cohesive answers. The text doesn’t say enough for us to extrapolate any further on the matter than we can. However, I think the text is astoundingly clear on how Christians must engage in worship with every bit of their bodies. Everything within our arsenals must be used to the glory of God. We must desire what God desires. We must love what God loves. We must align our wills to His will. We must be holy as He is holy. And we must do all these things with all our strength. This is what it means to follow the first and greatest commandment!

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