By Mark Dance
Since loving God with 100 percent of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is what Jesus desires most from us; then it should be no surprise that anything less disappoints Him.
Even a tepid response makes God sick: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
Jesus not only wants to be first in our lives and churches; He demands it. His relationship expectations are no different today than they were when Moses or Jesus spoke them.
It is important to understand that a white-hot covenant love motivated this famously graphic rebuke to the church in Laodicea. It’s not normally effective to demand love from someone.
Further, in this same passage, you can see that Jesus’ rebuke was part of calling them to repentance and loving restoration: “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:19-20).
See the dramatic contrast between Jesus vomiting them out of His mouth and having dinner with them? That contrast reminds us how important it is to have an accurate assessment of our spiritual health, especially since a pastor’s health is intrinsically connected to a church’s health.
The Shema (Great Commandment) is an invitation for us to go all-in with our love for God. Each of these four components of the Great Commandment gives us an opportunity to make a tangible assessment, and adjustment, if necessary.
Am I loving Jesus with all of my heart?
Pastors who want to have genuine revival in their church must start by having repentance in their hearts. According to Deuteronomy 6:5-6, it has to start at this deep place in our lives: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart…These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6).
The Shema is asking if we are all-in, starting with our hearts. The “most important commandment” in the Bible compels us to ask the most important question of our lives: Am I loving Jesus with all of my heart?
Am I loving Jesus with all of my soul?
Does your interior life need a little rearranging? While my heart is the eternal part of my life that is fully redeemed, my soul (life) is constantly in need of being restored, renewed, and refreshed.
King David allowed God to restore his soul in green pastures and beside still waters (Psalm 23:2). Where are the “green pastures” that restore your soul, and when were you there last?
Janet, my wife, gets her soul refreshed on backpacking trips across mountain ranges. My soul soars in oak trees with my bow and Bible at hand. Is there something you love doing that you have been putting off?
Just today I read this in an email from a pastor friend: “I’ve been on vacation and just shut down. Best thing I’ve done for myself in a while!” The church will survive while you are on vacation. What’s the current condition of your soul, and how are you allowing God to restore and refresh it?
Am I loving Jesus with all of my mind?
It is sometimes difficult to love the Lord with all of our minds when we’re exposed to so much useless and negative media. For example, I can only watch a news network for about five minutes at a time!
In what tangible way can you protect your mind from images and messages that lure you from your first love? Consider a media or social media fast, and fill in the extra time with a classic book on your reading list.
If you are struggling with consistently negative thoughts, you should consider talking to a friend, pastor, doctor, or therapist about it. It takes an equal dose of faith and humility for a pastor to ask for help.
Am I loving Jesus with all of my strength?
Since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), doesn’t it follow that we should take care of them? Presenting our bodies as a spiritual sacrifice is a personal act of loving worship (Romans 12:1)—so take a few minutes to assess the stewardship of your body. Each person’s eating and exercise routine needs to be customized to their own body.
Ninety percent of heart patients do not change their lifestyle after they have heart surgery. Although they are solemnly warned to “change or die”—two years later they are in the same condition.
Who is helping you overcome your physical blind spot? Why self-assess your health when a trusted friend can do a more accurate assessment?
I want to encourage you to walk through these four assessments with someone who also wants to be a Great Commandment pastor.
MARK DANCE (@markdance) pastored churches for 27 years before becoming the director of LifeWay Pastors in 2014. Mark and Janet live in Nashville and have two grown children.