How crucial is it for you to worship God with all your heart? What happens when people don’t serve Him with all their heart? And when they do?
In Psalm 86:12, King David wrote, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore” (emphasis added throughout).
I found it interesting to read this in other translations as well for a comparison:
- In the Bible in Basic English, he says: “I will give you praise, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will give glory to your name for ever.”
- In the Good News Translation, it reads, “I will praise you with all my heart, O Lord my God; I will proclaim your greatness forever.”
- And in the Contemporary English Version, it is expressed in fewer words: “With all my heart I thank you. I praise you, LORD God.”
It is interesting that all these Bible versions keep the phrase with all my heart. King David praised, glorified and proclaimed God’s greatness with all his heart.
Of course, when God speaks about it to His people, He says, “With all your heart.”
Actually, this exhortation was expressed a long time before David wrote the book of Psalms around the 10th century B.C. The first place in the Bible where we read this is found in Deuteronomy 11. Through Moses, God spoke to the children of Israel about the blessings they would receive as a result of obeying Him.
He said, “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil” (verses 13-14).
What is the heart?
Of course, the term the heart is used figuratively to mean more than the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies. The Bible often speaks of the heart as the place from which a person’s deepest intentions, feelings and emotions originate.
According to Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, the Hebrew word lebab is rendered “heart” and means “the conscious self—the inner person with every function that makes a person human.”
And in Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the Greek word kardia is rendered as “heart” and figuratively means the thoughts or feelings (mind).
The biblical terms translated “heart” denote the innermost center of human beings. In both the Old and New Testaments, the word heart is used to refer to the deepest character, intentions and motivations of humans.
It is the expression of love toward God
This expression of worship—“with all my heart”—must be very important to God. It was echoed by Jesus Christ when He gave an answer to the Pharisees’ question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus expanded its meaning and gave even more elements for emphasis. He answered, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-37).
Jesus reiterated it here because, as God in the flesh, He was indeed the One who commanded it to the ancient Israelites. Here, the expression with all your heart is linked directly to loving God. This means we are to love God more than anyone or anything else—with all our heart.
He must be first in our life, not second or third, because Christ has said, “You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot follow me unless you love me more than you love your own life” (Luke 14:26, CEV).
So, with that in mind, it is necessary for Christians to worship and serve God with their whole heart.
What can we learn from those who did not serve God with their whole heart?
The Old Testament records several stories of people not serving God with all their hearts. Here are two examples:
- King Saul. The first king of ancient Israel did not follow God’s instructions, given through the prophet Samuel. King Saul took matters into his own hands. He loved himself more than God by not obeying God and even building a monument to honor himself. He did not serve God with all his heart, and the consequence was dire. God rejected him as king of Israel (1 Samuel 15:10-12, 26).
- King Solomon. He was the wisest king who ever lived, and he reigned over ancient Israel for 40 years. But during the last years of his reign, he began to be disloyal to God, and he succumbed to the influence of his many pagan wives by serving their gods. This caused God to be deeply displeased and eventually break the kingdom into two nations (1 Kings 11:3-12).
The reason was obvious: King Solomon’s “heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.” In other words, he was not serving God with all his heart (verse 4), but with a divided heart.
Pertaining to this kind of unfaithfulness, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24, English Standard Version).
New Testament examples
As recorded in Acts 5, Ananias was not sincere in giving offerings to God. He pretended he was giving all the money from the sale of a possession, but secretly kept a portion for himself. His wife, Sapphira, knew it, but she agreed with the conspiracy. They did not worship God with all their heart.
If they had been honest and served God with all their heart, the end of the story would have been much different (Acts 5:1-10).
The poor widow’s example
It is clear that this poor widow loved God more than anything else. She worshipped God with all her heart.Elsewhere in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we can find many individuals who served and loved God with all their hearts. But the story of the poor widow recorded in Mark 12 is one of the most encouraging examples that Christians should learn from in terms of loving “the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” What she did was truly inspiring.
To paraphrase the story briefly, Jesus was watching people give offerings to God. Some rich people gave much, but the poor widow gave only two coins.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12:43-44).
It is clear that this poor widow loved God more than anything else. She worshipped God with all her heart.
Loving God with all our hearts today
King David wrote Psalm 86:12 long ago, but it gives us vital lessons and reminds us of how crucial it is that we worship God and love Him with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. As Jesus said, this is the first and greatest commandment. Obeying this commandment is essential to receiving His blessings—materially and spiritually.
For further study, see our article “Heart, Soul and Mind: Three Components in Loving God.”