What Does it Really Mean to Love God with Your Whole Heart?

Love is the greatest commandment. Love God. Love others. The truth is we will wrestle with our hearts on a consistent basis, but through a daily choice of surrender and submission, we can stumble into God's grace and love Him with our “whole heart.”

Contributing Writer
Updated May 13, 2024
What Does it Really Mean to Love God with Your Whole Heart?

The heart is a rather unique organ, but also quite complex. While there are physical and scientific definitions of the heart that denote it as a vital 4-chamber muscle that is used to pump blood throughout the body, there is another side of the heart that is just as complex in nature and has two sides we must cease to understand. 

As Christians, our hearts are the source of life, in both the physical and spiritual sense. We can take care of our hearts in the physical sense by eating healthily and exercising. However, as you well know, we all cave to those cravings for chocolate or decide to sit it out rather than go for a needed walk. 

The same applies to our spiritual heart, so to speak. When it comes to our “spiritual heart,” we are in a constant battle within, where one side bends to our own fleshly desires, and the other longs to serve and honor the Lord. This is why it is crucial to know the nature of God’s heart before we can come to grips with our own two sides. 

God’s Own Heart: The Heart of the Matter

The Bible is full of scriptures that capture the beauty and perfection of the heart of our God. We must realize that God’s heart is the very essence of Who He is. It depicts His loving nature, His desires, His will, and plans. His heart is a reflection of love with a purpose.

Being made in His own likeness (Genesis 1:27), we can see that God's heart consumes feelings just as we do, but with pureness, holiness, justice, and righteousness. We see our God express joy (Nehemiah 8:10), compassion and mercy (Psalm 25:10), and even righteous anger (Romans 12:19).

Yet, while God’s emotions that stem from His heart are perfect, they are also sensitive to our words, deeds, and actions, because He cares so deeply for us. Deuteronomy 5:29 speaks to the precious heart God has for His beloved children. 

Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Now read that verse again, but, this time, read it out loud. Can you hear the longing that God has in His voice for you? Our good and gracious Father is earnestly crying for you to abide in Him, to faithfully obey Him, and to let Him lead you. He is wooing your heart to seek after His own. 

Our God, the Romantic

God wants everything to do with your heart! Let that soak in for just a minute. The flawless and perfect nature of our God’s heart seeks after our own “fleshly” and totally imperfect, messy heart– wow! It’s truly quite humbling.

Friend, God wants our heart, not because it gives us physical life (which He can give and take at any moment according to His will), but because it opens a beautiful opportunity for us to have an intimate relationship with Him, allowing us to live this life to the fullest. That said, God doesn’t want us to follow our hearts; He wants our hearts to align with His! 

God knows that when we follow our heart, it can lead to so much misfortune, as our heart is innately selfish and inwardly motivated. Our heart leads us to do deceitful and even wicked things (Jeremiah 17:9). Our heart has a natural line of defense, as it puts up walls to guard against getting hurt. It automatically reacts in haste or stores up bitterness when it is stricken with betrayal or slander. It quickly becomes overbearing and devious when it feels it is getting attacked. Our heart is naturally bent towards sin and has been since the fall, making it deceptive and desperately sick.

Yet, God’s heart calls us to live in a way that places our hearts in His hands and allows us to live in a way contradictory to our natural tendencies. It gives us the means to see this world, and others the way He does, as a creation worthy of love. Basically, if we love the Creator, we love His creation! We do this by placing others before ourselves, loving with a heart full of compassion, praying for those who persecute us, and extending grace to our enemies. God commands us to go against the ways of our flesh and soften our hearts to bear the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22).

This is why God’s Word has so many verses that point to the nature of our own hearts: They will naturally fail us and deplete us of life. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to guard our hearts, as good (or evil) can spring from them. In Psalm 51:10, David pleads with God to create a new heart within him and revive his spiritual joy. Jeremiah 17:9 points out that we are innately sinful, and “following our heart” will only result in idolatry of self. 

How Do We Love God with a Fallen Heart?

Can we really love God with our whole hearts if they are riddled with deception? Honestly, tending to the heart is a tricky game. Just as we may pick up that extra cookie when the doctor says to cut back on sugar, we are apt to harbor resentment when we get cross or sideways with others. 

Knowing this, how exactly are we to “clumsily” love God with our whole heart? Take a look at two similar verses below. One found in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Deuteronomy 6:5-6

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’This is the first and greatest commandment.’ Matthew 22:37-38

Both of these verses reveal a command as well as a precious promise. Read them out loud and listen to how God commands loyalty and faithful love from the Israelites. He is telling them that His love will lead, provide, and protect them if they place their trust in Him (Deuteronomy 6:5-6).  Then in the New Testament, we see how Jesus replied to the religious leaders at the time as they were questioning Him about “God’s law.” 

God doesn’t expect perfection from us; He knows we can’t deliver that. God is looking for our submission and a surrender of our hearts. How do we do that?

  1. We must submerge ourselves in His Word to fuel our hearts, minds, and souls with Truth. 
  2. We must earnestly and fervently seek our God through prayer to connect our hearts and souls to Him. 
  3. We must choose to love others the way He commands us to (Matthew 22:39).

Love is the greatest commandment. Love God. Love others. The truth is we will wrestle with our hearts on a consistent basis, but through a daily choice of surrender and submission, we can stumble into God's grace and love Him with our “whole heart.”

Will you pray with me?
Father, thank you for being such a kind, good, and loving God. We are humbled by Your love and that You seek to have a relationship with us. Lord, we want to be Your humble servants and devote our lives to You. We want to love and live according to Your will and purpose. Please grant us the strength to surrender our hearts to you and love with compassion, kindness, and gentleness, while extending grace. We really want to love You with our whole hearts. As we stumble through life, may seek to connect to Your heart. Amen.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/ljubaphoto

Alicia SearlAlicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy.  Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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