Total Love: Soul and Strength

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:22

“Soul love” and “strength love” complement each other in much the same way as “heart love” and “head love.”  James uses the terms faith and deeds, but you’ll see in a moment that he’s talking about the same idea.

The soul is hard to define.  It’s deeper than our thoughts and emotions and somehow defines our true self.

We know that being a Christian means that your soul is saved from sin and condemnation and set apart for God.  No matter what the heart, mind, or strength may do the condition of the soul is what really matters.

Love with the soul is called faith.  We put our faith in Christ because we love him, but of course that is not enough.  Philippians 2:12 says “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence– continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

This is where strength comes in.  As far as salvation is concerned, physical action is not required, yet it’s expected.

When you think of strength, do you think of this guy?

Well, God doesn’t ask us to lift thousands of pounds.  He just asks us to use whatever abilities we have within our bodies for good.  Jesus says John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  We can and should work out our devotion to Christ with our strength.

Most Christians run into one of two problems.  We either feel we can earn God’s favor by “doing the right thing,” or we don’t worry about the way we act because we know we’re saved no matter what.  Either mistake springs from an inauthentic faith.  We cannot truly believe in the power of Christ’s sacrifice if we still think we have to be “good enough.”  But if we do believe in that power, we should want to do good deeds anyway.

Faith is invisible until clothed with actions.  That’s what Jesus meant when he said “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”  If you truly love God, you should be producing good fruit.

What’s good fruit?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  The easiest way to test yourself for genuine love is by looking for these “fruits” in your actions.

Do you see now how intricate true love is?  Heart, soul, mind, and strength.  What a perfect set!  You simply can’t have one without the other three.

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