I’m one of those busy moms living a full life who decided to go back to college a few years ago. My brain felt a little sluggish and old, especially coming out of a season where the theme song of “Elmo’s World” lived rent free in my head. In my junior year of college, I enrolled in Hebrew. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. Sometimes using English words is difficult, and now here I was trying to learn to read a foreign—and ancient—language! Hebrew was hard, but surely you know this blog post isn’t about that. It’s about what God did in my heart and my life through that Hebrew class.
Early on one of my vocabulary words was the Hebrew word “labab,” which means heart. Heart in the Hebrew isn’t merely a muscular organ as we might think of it; it truly is something so much more. The word means “inner-man, mind, will, heart, understanding.” Immediately upon reading that my mind jumped to a well-known passage: Deuteronomy 6:4-7. In these verses God’s people are instructed to love God with all their heart. It’s easy to say we love something or someone with all our heart, but do we live this out in our most private life? I wondered, do I truly love whole-heartedly in how I respond to people in my head? Are my emotional reactions always godly? Are my inner thoughts revealing how much I love God?
Jesus took this command even further in Matthew 22:37-39 when he repeated the refrain and added we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” If I’m honest, I can admit I love myself the most in my private thoughts and attitudes. I reveal I love myself a lot when I choose to be selfish or conceited or prideful or any number of sins. If I loved my neighbor like I loved myself, I would think of her often and I would put her needs first. I would believe the best in her and about her, never questioning her motives. This reveals how prideful I can be in my own heart when left unchecked. It also reveals how much more I could truly love my neighbors, my children, my husband, or my community.
The word “labab” and the idea of loving God with all my emotions and reactions has taken up occupancy in my mind, replacing the theme song for “Elmo’s World,” living rent free in my head. That doesn’t mean I execute this idea perfectly or even do it right every day. But now when my thoughts or attitude turns sour, I find myself convicted. Are these thoughts godly? Do they reveal how much I love him and how much he’s changing my heart and my life? Or are these thoughts self-serving and revealing I love myself more than my neighbor or even my God?
Now when my kids are fighting and I feel that frustration boiling up inside of me, I stop and think. About how these feelings and emotions are about to become a reaction and that reaction is not godly. It will not show my kids how much I love God or them in that response. Then by God’s grace, I can choose a different reaction. I can speak firmly in discipline while honoring them by not yelling.
How would living out this concept look for you? How would it change your actions and attitudes to remember that loving God with your whole heart means loving him with these responses too?