And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).
Christ is clear. Loving God with our whole being is the most important and greatest commandment.
He plainly tells us that our relationships are the primary (but not only) way to glorify God.
Good stewardship is the careful management of something entrusted to one’s care. This demands thoughtful attention to the owner’s intent and wishes for his property and resources.
When God commands us to love with our whole being, he clearly spells out his purpose for the relationships he entrusts to us. Our relationship with God is central to all other relationships. Understanding our vertical relationship with our Creator informs our horizontal relationships with others.
To apply stewardship to our relationships, we should first apply it to God.
What Does It Mean to Steward Our Relationship with God?
If we understand that we are made in God’s image and trusted caretakers of his creation, then what are the implications for our relationship with him?
Consider these inherent realities of the steward relationship—authority, obedience, and awe.
- Authority: As Creator of the universe, God holds all authority on heaven and earth. As his created beings, we submit to the authority of our Creator (Matt. 28:18).
- Obedience: With respect to authority, we are to obey the will of the Father. In recognizing and submitting to our role as God’s servants and stewards of creation, we should rightfully respect the will of the Creator (Phil. 2:10-11). We are free in Christ to live according to God’s will (Rom. 8:2).
- Awe: As creatures of the Creator of the universe, we should be inspired by fear, awe, and reverence of our Creator. One day all nations will worship him (Rev. 15:3-4).
How Do We Steward Our Relationship with God?
In Mark 12:30, Jesus speaks plainly. Loving God seems quite simple. Yet in our human brokenness, most times it feels far from easy.
To steward our relationship with God, we need to recognize the ways we were created to love him. God has given us incredible capacity to love—with our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
- Heart: For some, it can be easy to know and study about God but difficult to apply this knowledge to the heart. Our words and actions are ultimately a result of what is rooted in our hearts (Luke 6:45, Prov. 4:23). A consequence of loving God with our whole heart is a life that exemplifies Christ’s love in thought, word, and deed. Our desires and passions reflect the true center of our worship.
- Soul: In Genesis 2:7, God forms man out of dust and breathes into him the breath of life. Our being is more than physical, emotional, and intellectual. The soul encompasses all that we are. We are called to worship God through a life that is completely dedicated to him.
- Mind: Knowing, loving, and honoring God with our minds involves diligence. We are in possession of the living Word, a love letter to us from God. Stewarding our minds requires us to spend time studying God’s truth. It also means discerning the application of God’s truth to the culture of the world. Today’s culture tempts us daily with destructive ways to distract our minds from God.
- Strength: The first commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 is translated as “might.” Does that mean the heavyweight champion can love God more than the twelve year-old child, elderly senior citizen, or terminally ill? No—it means devoted totality. We are to direct all we have at our disposal to the glory of God.
Despite sin and because of Christ’s redemptive work in our lives, through faith and by grace, we can all love God with everything that we are and everything that we have.
Follow the Example of Jesus
Ultimately, God sent his Son to demonstrate the life we should live to honor God. Christ sets the example to love his Father, to love himself, and to love others. The life of Jesus demonstrates many ways to love God.
Consider these practical ways:
- Intimacy: Jesus retreats regularly to be with God, intimately and alone (Mark 1:35, Matt. 6:6). What is your posture towards God? Do you come to him as you are, without filters and masks? He knows you, loves you, and wants intimacy with you (Psalm 139).
- Time: Christ retreated from preaching to large crowds to spend time with God. He spent hours and nights praying to his Father (Luke 6:12, Matt. 14:23). In order to know our Creator, we must spend time with him.
- Worship: We have the opportunity to worship our Creator every minute of every day. In loving him with our heart, mind, soul, and might, we can steward every resource we have in all that we do to follow his commandments and love him to our fullest capacity.
- Service: Jesus lived a life for others. He lived selflessly and loved abundantly. He associated with the outcasts and sought out the unwanted. God calls us to love others as he does. We can glorify him by our service to others (Matt. 25:35-40).
To steward our relationship with God, we must understand the resources God has given us, his desires, and the ways he has created us to love.
To read more about whole-life stewardship, check out IFWE’s booklet Wholehearted, A Biblical Look at the Greatest Commandment and Personal Wealth.
Editor’s Note: On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This post was previously published on Jul. 15, 2015.