We were told by our pastors and church leaders to love God with all our hearts as it is written in the Bible. But, what does it really mean? To actually understand this great commandment, we should look at the Biblical authors’ perspective of the heart.
Love God with all your heart
The heart in Hebrew is called “levav” or “lev”. And though Biblical writers already knew the literal meaning of the heart, which is one of the body’s organs, they use “lev” in many different and significant ways.
Ancient Israel had no concept of the brain. Therefore, they believed the heart functions as the human’s intellectual activity. So, they talked of “knowing with our hearts.” And through it, we understand and make connections. The Book of Proverbs presented that wisdom dwells in our hearts, and we use it to discern what is right and wrong.
Thus, the heart is where we think and our aid in perceiving the world.
Moreover, the heart is also the place of our emotions. Just like when Hannah felt pain in the heart when she could not bear any children. In fact, the phrase “broken heart” comes from biblical Hebrew. Similarly, the heart is also responsible for joy. In Hebrew, to be happy is to be “of good heart” or to have a “heart of joy”.
Not only that, but the heart is also the center of making choices motivated by our desires. Like David, who had it in his heart to build a temple for God. Or when Nathan advised David to pursue the desires of his heart. “Whatever is in your heart, go and do it.” (2 Samuel 7:3)
So then, in the Bible, the heart is not only the generator of physical life, but it is also the center of our emotional life, intellectual life, and affections. Now, when we say we should love God with all of our hearts, it means that we are to devote our whole body and mind, its feelings and desires, along with the future and failures to the One who is King overall.
Reference: Youtube | Bible Project