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How to “Win” at Life

Written by Karen Pourcho on

I could tell my son was frustrated by the look on his face. He was trying to teach me a new card game, but to me it was just one rule after another: a two resets the count, an eight mirrors the card below, a seven forces the player to play low, and so on. Finally, I blurted out, “But what do I have to do to win?”

Have you ever felt like that? All you hear are rules, and you just want to cut to the chase: What is the objective? What do you have to do to win? Games are one thing, but sometimes we feel like that about life too.

Mark 12 tells of a scribe or as Matthew calls him, a lawyer, who also seems to be asking questions about rules. This was a man whose very job was dealing with the commands of God’s law, all 613 of them as listed in the Torah1. His question for Jesus was simple: Which command took precedence? Which was the most important commandment of all?

Loving God With Everything

Jesus answered by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.”

By listing these four facets of personhood—heart, soul, mind, and strength—Jesus was emphasizing that we are to love God with ALL of our being. Not just with our emotions, not just with our spiritual life, not just with our intellect, and not just in a physical sense, but with every part of who we are. When it comes to our relationship with God, he commands us to be ALL in.

Of course, our personhood is not conveniently divided into these four compartments: heart, soul, mind, and strength. These four areas overlap and intertwine to describe our total personhood just as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control describe the single fruit of the Spirit working in our lives. By using these four words, Jesus was stating that we are to love God with ALL of ourselves—every bit, nothing kept back. Comprehensively. Completely.

Truly Loving People

But Jesus does not stop there, he adds a second commandment, quoting Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Why does he link these two commands together? Because how we love God will be evidenced in how we love others.

I think this is what the Apostle John was thinking of in his first letter when he wrote: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).

Warren Wiersbe says it like this: “Love is part of the very being and nature of God. If we are united to God through faith in Christ, we share in His nature. And since His nature is love, love is the test of the reality of our spiritual life.”2

So, what does it mean to love God? It means that, with our hearts, we seek intimacy with him through prayer, lamenting, and trusting. With our souls, we worship him through song as well as acts of service. With our minds, we study him and his Word, getting to know him and growing in our understanding of him. With our strength, we yield and train our will to his purposes and trust him to enable us to do what he calls us to do.

How do we meet the objective of life? How do we live life well? How do we . . . win?

By loving the Lord, our God, with every bit of ourselves so that love spills over to others. We win by being ALL in.

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1The Greatest Commandment Pamphlet: Loving God and My Neighbor. (Rose Publishing, 2021).

2 Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament: Ephesians-Revelation, vol. II (Colorado Springs: David C Cook. 2008)

Karen Pourcho

Karen joined the College Park staff in 2015 as the Director of Women’s Ministries and is a member of College Park’s Directional Team. Karen is passionate about seeing women transformed through the study of God’s Word and connecting with others in rich relationships. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Bob; children and grandchildren; and her four-legged friend, Tracker.

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