Have you ever noticed that the most popular, most successful practitioners of sports, music, or any endeavor—those we consider stars and heroes—are never half-hearted? Quite the opposite, they pursue their craft with zeal, dedication, passion, spirit, and all their heart.
We celebrate wholehearted people who “go all out,” who “give it their all,” or who “leave it all on the field” and similar expressions, meaning those who are fully engaged and striving with all of their might to be the best. We are attracted to personalities that have zest and are enthusiastic, eager, interested, and passionate.
But who is a fan of those who are unenthusiastic, disinterested, indifferent, lukewarm, and spiritless? No one celebrates the half-hearted, who lack enthusiasm, interest, and passion. The half-hearted “make only a half-hearted attempt” and “do a half-hearted job.” They “show only half-hearted interest” in the work at hand and only “give a half-hearted apology.”
In sports, half-hearted effort does not produce wins or championships. Famous basketball player Michael Jordan is attributed the following quote: “I don’t do things half-heartedly, because I know if I do, I can expect half-hearted results.” The Greek philosopher Epictetus similarly said, “A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes.”
“Give it all you’ve got!” is an idiomatic expression meaning to expend all of your available time and energy to accomplish some worthwhile pursuit. Similar expressions to encourage someone to expend maximum effort include: “Pull out all of the stops”, “Go for broke”, “Go all out”, “Stop at nothing”, “Move mountains”, “Leave no stone unturned”, and “Take it to the limit.”
The Bible uses a similar expression. A very early occurrence is in Deuteronomy 4 where God warned ancient Israel what would happen if they forgot the covenant they made with Him. They would suffer destruction and be scattered into other nations. “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (v. 29).
In Deuteronomy 6:5, God said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” That is being “all in.” Deuteronomy 10:12–13 explains what God requires of His people: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” Just as an employer may reprimand or ultimately terminate a lazy, half-hearted employee, the Lord does not respect half-hearted followers—but He rewards those who make the best effort they can, whether they have a little or a lot. This is shown in numerous ways, such as the parable of the talents, and Jesus’ instruction to love Him above everything in order to be His disciple (Luke 14:26).
In fact, this “all your heart” expression is used five more times in Deuteronomy, and also used in the books of Joshua, 1 Samuel, 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Proverbs, Jeremiah, and Joel. More importantly, Jesus Himself highlighted this expression of God’s requirement for all who will follow Him. One of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which is the first (or foremost) commandment of all? Jesus answered him by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4–5. The most important commandment of all is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
God does not want us to be half-hearted. He wants us to follow Him with all our heart—our whole being—and reflect the love He has for us, for the sake of all mankind.
You may find the article, “Do You Seek God?” to be helpful, as well as many other materials on our website, all free of charge.