Read Matthew 22:37–39
Jesus tells his followers that the first and greatest commandment is to love God completely with all your heart, soul, and mind. Then he says the second is like the first. We are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
In the first great commandment, Jesus describes our spiritual core muscles as the heart, the soul, and the mind. These muscles enable us to love God wholly and completely. So how do we effectively exercise these spiritual core muscles?
Just as our physical muscles are connected, giving us the ability to stand, walk, sit, and run, our heart, soul, and mind are also interrelated, and must be exercised if we are to be spiritually healthy.
Let me explain it this way: A body builder wouldn’t go to the gym week in and week out and only focus on building his biceps. He knows that without an exercise routine that develops his body as a whole—not just his biceps—his other muscles would atrophy and eventually become useless. Similarly, we have to focus on strengthening and growing all three muscles that make up our spiritual core—or we risk growing stagnant, complacent and lukewarm, which would hinder all God wants to do in and through us.
Strengthening our spiritual core is not just for our benefit—it’s also for the benefit of others. Remember, God has called us to love him and to love others. Therefore, we must focus on developing each of these muscles, because only then will we have the capacity not only to love God but also to see ourselves as God sees us. This is crucial, because if we are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then it is imperative that we actually love, value, and esteem ourselves. If we truly love God with all of our hearts, souls and minds, then we also truly love ourselves for whom God has made us to be, and we are able to love others for whom he has made them to be. We will always love our
neighbors as we love ourselves. It’s from this place of authentic relationship with God that we can love our neighbors as ourselves.
Being spiritually strong is not so different from being physically strong. It means working our spiritual core muscles every day. Think about how much easier it will be to conquer the challenges in your life if you are indeed spiritually fit. Once you are strong and vibrant from the core outward, you can truly walk by faith.