Friday, February 19, 2016

What's In Your Heart?

Do you trust that God knows what is in your heart? Do you trust that what you teach and how you worship is from the heart? Do you trust in your love of God?

Many of us have heard the credit card commercial which asks viewers: What’s in your wallet? The sales pitch is to persuade listeners to make no mistake about all credit cards being the same. Trust the right credit card in your wallet, Capital One assures its customers, to get more than any other card.

a man after God’s own heart
There is a similar view about the heart among some saints, but with a notable difference. Specifically, this view is one of self-reassurance that as long as you believe it in your heart and it feels good in your heart then it must be right and that’s all you need.
Quite often in discussions, after it becomes evident between saints that their divergent views are at odds and irreconcilable, one will declare to the other that, “God looks at the heart.” This view of the heart by Christians is probably drawn from I Samuel 16:7. The passage refers to the shepherd boy David who was about to be anointed to ascend to the throne after king Saul as the new king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. Samuel had previously informed king Saul, after Saul had been rejected as king because of his disobedience, that God had sought a man after God’s own heart, namely, the shepherd boy, David.

The saints assume that God knows what is in their heart. This is an undeniable truth. However the common mistaken presupposition which goes along with that assumption is that since it is God, not man, who looks into their heart that what God sees is good and pleasing to him. This leads some people to make their decisions on the basis of an overwhelming spring of emotion overflowing and gushing out such good feelings, it can not possibly be anything but right, because _ it is from the heart, right? Otherwise God, they reassure themselves, would not have put that in their hearts. However this is the notable difference between the heart which is driven by good feelings and a credit card which is driven by hard cash. (One is no more to be trusted than the other.) Furthermore, their gospel message for others is to urge them to trust their hearts, because after all it is God who looks at the heart.

what comes out of the heart
This mistaken notion about the heart does not come from the message of Jesus or his apostles. In fact, Jesus admonished his listeners that all manner of evil which comes out of the heart and defiles a person. Jeremiah declared that the heart is more deceitful than all else and is not to be trusted. Certainly, the emotions of the heart are God-given for the expression of our anger, sorrow and joy. Does this mean the heart is evil? No, it just means that the heart, as the source of our emotions which can be so fickle and flaky, is not to be trusted.

love God
Jesus declared not only that we are to love God, but he was specific about how and the source of that love for God. Love towards God is to be WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. God did not leave something as infinitely significant and powerful as the expression from our innermost being of our love towards Him to our creative and selfish imagination, lest we love him according to our imagination and not according to his commandment. (Here is my blog article on these; heart, mind, soul and strength.)

from the heart
It seems, in the minds of some saints, that the heart, love and obedience are incongruous; that these can not possibly go together. They would rather trust and act according to their own imagination and not as Jesus declared about how believers are to love God. They walk in some semblance of faith which detaches and separates these from one another. Sometimes this requires that they reject obedience over the heart and love.

The apostle Paul, like Jesus, was unashamed and unapologetic about the closeness of the heart, love and obedience. Paul was thankful to God for the saints in Rome who had obeyed from the heart a specific form of teaching. If it seems, for you, too heavy to take on the yoke, that is, the form of the teaching of Jesus what do you think God sees in your heart?

keep your heart pure
Pure thoughts do not just appear out of thin air. The psalmist knew they come by the word of God; the commandment of the Lord that one keeps his or her heart pure. Those thoughts, if they are to fill the heart of the believer and reign over the fickleness of emotion, come through diligent commitment. This is not to deny or suppress emotions or the expression of emotions. It is to deny emotions the authority to reign in our lives because emotions do not come from instruction.

Even so, what the psalmist understood was that when the word of God so fills the believers’ life and thoughts the evident result is joy; an emotional expression of the believer’s love for God and his word. It is not only with all his or her heart, but with all his or her mind, with all his or her soul and with all his or her strength. The believer can readily, confidently and joyfully respond that what’s in his or her heart is the commandment of the God; the word of God. The words that are life readily flow freely from the innermost being, Jesus quoted scripture, of the believer.

The apostle Paul noted how God has poured out his love within the heart of the believer through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5) Praise be to God because through the fulfillment of his promise to send the Holy Spirit the commandment of God; the word of the Lord is no longer a matter of what’s in your heart, but who’s in your heart.

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