In our busy and fast-paced world, it can be tough to stay focused and committed to God. However, the Bible abounds with wisdom about the immense value of wholeheartedness in our relationship with God and others.
Wholeheartedness involves showing complete sincerity and commitment, which is expressed in the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might’” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5, ESV). In this passage, the Hebrew term for “heart” signifies the totality of our being—thoughts, will, and emotions (cf. Proverbs 4:23). The idea is that we must surrender everything in wholehearted devotion to God, leaving no room for unfaithfulness or unwavering commitment.
The book of Psalms offers an array of poetic expressions that beautifully portray the essence of wholehearted devotion. For example, in Psalm 119:10–11, the psalmist passionately declares, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV). Let us follow the psalmist’s example of pursuing God with our whole heart and internalizing His Word, resulting in personal holiness and righteousness.
The New Testament seamlessly weaves the threads of wholehearted devotion, highlighted by Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37–40. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (ESV; cf. Luke 10:27).
The first commandment is to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. In doing so, we demonstrate to ourselves and the world that He is the most important person in our lives.
The second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. The word neighbor includes everyone, not just our friends and family. Believers are called to love everyone because everyone is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Thus, we should love others wholeheartedly.
The apostle Paul frequently employs athletic metaphors to convey spiritual truths, particularly when discussing the pursuit of wholehearted gospel living. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27, he uses the metaphor of a race to encourage believers to approach their faith with total determination:
Do not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (ESV).This passage embodies the tension between the “already” and “not yet” of wholehearted living. Paul acknowledges the reality of human frailty and our ongoing struggle with sin while holding out the hope of transformation through Christ’s redemptive work. This tension drives us to continually press forward in the pursuit of wholeheartedness (cf. Philippians 3:12–21).
Wholeheartedness is an attainable goal, and the Bible calls us to sincere and authentic commitment to God and others. May we never forget the following words: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).