In Mark 12:30, Jesus told us the greatest command we need to follow is to love God with all our heart (emotionally), soul (volitionally /will), mind (intellectually), and strength (physically). If we are to live biblically, the most important command we need to follow is to love God with everything we have.
In Genesis 22, Abraham is an example of what this means. How did Abraham love God with all his mind? What was the intellectual aspect of his love for the Lord?
Genesis 22 is the passage where God tells Abraham to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Take a couple minutes to read verses 1 through 18 if you have your Bible handy, or you can follow this link: Genesis 22: 1-18.
In Abraham’s mind, Isaac was already dead. He was willing to give up the son he loved, and fully intended to carry out God’s command. This does not seem to make any intellectual sense. As we read the passage for the first time we might think, “Abraham, wake up and smell the coffee this morning! If you go through with this, how will God fulfill his promise to make Isaac your heir and become a great nation? Are you sure you have this right?”
But Abraham does not back down. He believed Isaac would return with him back down the mountain even after he was slain. Look at verse 5 (NKJV):
And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
Note that Abraham says “we will come back,” not “I will come back.” How can he say that knowing what he is about to do?
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews gives us insight from God as to what was going on in Abraham’s mind (Hebrews 11:17-19 NKJV).
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Abraham was using his head. He knew Isaac had to have children in order for the promise to be fulfilled, and he couldn’t do that if he were dead. He believed God would raise Isaac, so he said “we will come back.”
God expects us to use our brains. We are not expected to have “blind faith,” but to put our trust in his promises. We serve him because it makes sense.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NKJV)
Abraham did not understand what God was going to do, but he used his mind to recall what he did know about God, and realized what he was asking of him was reasonable. Anything God asks us to do is reasonable.
We often face times when we don’t know what God is doing. Why did my car break down? Why did I lose my job? Why do I have cancer? But we can face all these situations when we realize God loves us.
Anything God asks us to do is reasonable because of who he is – he is the God who loves us and who rules the universe. He wants what is best for us, and is able to do what is best for us. Serving him under any circumstance simply makes sense, even if we don’t understand what he’s doing.
Next time: How Abraham loved God with all his strength
More articles in this series:
All you need is love
Loving God with everything we have
Loving God with all: How Abraham loved God with all his heart
Loving God with all: How Abraham loved God with all his soul