This is the first in a series of 5 articles on this topic I will post. This first article covers the broad topic, but I will post subsequent articles over the coming weeks that address each area of Heart, Might, Mind and Strength individually.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him” (D&C 59:5). “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” (D&C 4:2)
These four aspects of our beings – heart, might, mind, and strength – are repeated throughout the scriptures, usually in the context of either how we serve the Lord, or how we worship Him, as in the two examples cited above. The four aspects seem to cover our entire being.
As I have pondered these, I have come to the conclusion that, at least for me, they seem to relate to the following:
- Heart – our spiritual feelings and efforts
- Might – our social and emotional feelings and efforts
- Mind – our mental or intellectual thoughts and efforts
- Strength – our physical powers and efforts
Taken together, these seem to cover every aspect of ourselves. When we serve or worship we are thus taught that we should do so with all of these faculties – with our entire being – and I think it is worth pondering how we serve and worship in each of these areas. but even outside of our service and worship these are all areas we need in our lives. I’m sure we all find one or more of these areas easier than others, and conversely, find one or more a bit more challenging.
Personally, I naturally tend to favour the Heart and Mind. That’s not to say that my worship or service in either area is necessarily what it should be, just that my own natural preferences lean to these areas. Physically I’ve always been a bit of a whimp to be honest, and socially I’d be quite happy as a hermit. I have to make a real effort in these areas in my life. Which of the four areas are you naturally inclined towards, and which do you struggle with and/or avoid?
It is interesting that Luke records that Jesus in his early years of life, “… increased in wisdom (Mind) and stature (Strength), and in favour with God (Heart) and man (Might).” (Luke 2:52)
Part of our experience in life is that we are intended to grow and to develop in each of these areas. However, none of us is perfect, and we are all imperfect in different ways. We have different degrees of skill and ability in each of these areas, as well as our natural preferences I described above. Some people are naturally physically strong, while others need to work harder to get physical strength, and still others are born with – or acquire – physical disabilities that are unlikely to go away in this life. The same could be said of each of the other aspects of our being – our spiritual, mental, and social/emotional beings. Some people are born naturally gifted or with instinctive inclinations towards one or other of these parts of our being, and others have varying degrees of ability, or even disability. Of course, the athlete with good body strength and stamina still needs to exercise and work to maintain his or her fitness, and so it is with the other areas – if we cease to do our spiritual exercises, for example, then our hearts will harden.
I have often loved the passage of scripture in Alma, where he describes the scope of the Atonement, as I think this is relevant here.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” (Alma 7:11-13)
Within this passage we have four things listed which Christ took upon himself in the Atonement – these are: 1. pains & sicknesses, 2. death, 3. infirmities, and 4. sins. I see these corresponding to the four areas of our own being – i.e. heart, might, mind and strength. Now that correlation may not work for you of course, but it does for me, as follows:
In the scriptures, a quick review of passages that talk of pain often refer to it as an emotional (might) type of pain as well as physical pain, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” (Psalms 116:3) “As at the report concerning Egypt, so shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre.” (Isaiah 23:5) “Behold, my soul is rent with anguish because of you, and my heart is pained…” (1 Nephi 17:47).
The term infirmities can relate to a wide range of things in the scriptures. It can relate to physical illnesses, to emotional pains, or to mental illnesses, such as, “And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities….” (Luke 8:2). In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin tells the people, “But I am like yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind….” (Mosiah 2:11).
And, of course, we read within the passage in Alma 7, that Jesus took upon himself our sins (heart) and also death (strength). And so, we see that this passage in Alma covers the same 4 parts of our being that we are commanded to use in our worship and in our service – heart, might, mind and strength.
Is there some aspect of your being that is deficient? The Saviour’s atoning sacrifice covers it. Christ has power, through His Atonement, to heal any and all elements of our lives.
It seems to me that the suffering for sins and His breaking of the bands of death are the two most important elements of the Atonement – after all these are the things that would keep us from returning to live with our Father in Heaven – and it is therefore appropriate that these remain at the forefront of our teaching about the Atonement.
But, Jesus’s Atonement covers not just those things that have eternal consequence, but also those things that influence our peace and joy in this life. Elder Dallin H Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them like the Apostle Paul—is available for every affliction in mortality.” (He Heals the Heavy Laden, Oct 2006 General Conference)
Nephi’s brother Jacob, in his great Book of Mormon sermon on the Atonement in 2 Nephi 9 (verses 19-25), refers to these four aspects of the Saviour’s power:
MIGHT – Our Emotional/Social Shortcomings
“O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.”
MIND – Our Intellectual Shortcomings
“O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.”
STRENGTH – Our Physical Shortcomings
“And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.“O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
HEART – Our Spiritual Shortcomings
“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it. Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.”
There is value in studying the power of the Atonement to make us whole in each of these four parts of our being.
The next article in this series will discuss how the Jesus Christ heals and makes complete our HEARTS, or the spiritual part of ourselves. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this subject? Do you have a different perspective?