“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
— Mark 12:30 (GNT)
The Greatest Commandment, as it is translated above, is the imperative that is to encapsulate all facets of the Christian life. The task of Christian discipleship, which is more a quest of ongoing sanctification, requires a right head (right thinking), right hands (right practice), and a right heart (the right motive).
Jesus exemplifies each of these in the case of a woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8. The ruling Jews are testing Jesus, and the Lord must determine, through the basis of Old Testament Scripture, what sort of penalty this woman deserves. The Old Testament law allows for stoning, but Jesus senses some dual iniquity in this case.
Are the religious leaders so blameless, themselves?
At this point Jesus cuts to the heart of the issues of humanity. Within his mind he is cognitively aware of the disparity between the Jews’ self-righteousness and the holiness of God. His heart sensed this, and his mind confirmed it. And his hands, with which he would practice the penalty (by throwing stones at her until she was a bloody pulp on the ground, lifeless and even dead) told him that, in this case, it was an unjust penalty.
Jesus doesn’t completely absolve her, however.
His wisdom dictates that she should, “Go, and sin no more,” so as not only to stop offending God, but, perhaps more importantly, to stay out of the Jews’ harshly punitive way.
In modelling the right head, the right hands, and the right heart, Jesus is modelling right relationship. He has brought together orthodoxy, orthopraxy, and orthopathy.
Orthodoxy is rational, orthopraxy is relevant, and orthopathy is relational.
As Christians we need to be informed in our minds, having surrendered our thoughts to be ordered by the Lord. Our lives, having been transformed by the renewing in our minds, mean that our hands are ready to do whatever is relevant. And our thinking and practice are governed and affirmed by a heart that seeks only after the Lord.
To love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength requires a right head (to think right), right hands (to do what is right), and a right heart (and to be rightly motivated). This is our sole task. Living the Christian life is no harder or easier than this.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: this thought was inspired by Dr. Brian Harris, Principal of Vose Seminary, Perth, Western Australia.