Yesterday, we talked about loving God with all your heart. And how our heart is our Motives, affections and feelings. (You could put emotions in this category as well. I’m sure there’s some disagreement, but just go with it. And our emphasis was on the fact that we need to receive God’s love.
Today, I want to think about the heart again. Having started with the emphasis on RECEIVING God’s love, there is still a lot we can and need to do when it comes to our hearts.
We are so driven by our hearts (motives, affections, feelings & emotions) these days, it’s actually pretty scary. In fact, we are at a point where we are actually legislating based on feelings. I’m sure that’s not going to end badly at all.
But, in a world driven by our hearts, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the same things.
Now, don’t hear me saying we shouldn’t have feelings. We absolutely should. In fact, I think a great disservice was done through the age of reason which emphasized thought over feelings. Though, there are some really good things that come out of that too. If you’ve been going through our Philippians Bible Study here on workplace on Tuesday evenings, you know that Joy is actually a good feeling in the soul which is produced in us by the Holy Spirit (It’s a gift, not something we conjure up) as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.
We absolutely should have deep, gut-level feelings about God and our brothers and sisters in Christ (which is how Paul starts his letter to the Philippian church, talking about his gut level love he has for them.)
But, we also must be aware of our feelings and be wise about them. Scripture has several warnings about the heart. And if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves worshipping things that aren’t God. And that’s called idolatry.
So, what do we need to know about our hearts?
1.) We need to guard them. Prov. 4:23 – “23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” We need to be very careful about what we let get into our hearts. Because those things that get to that level of our being have a tendency to drive the way we live.
Phil 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – When our hearts are filled with God’s love, when Christ is the source of the spring in our hearts, we can trust the Spirit of Christ to guard our hearts. You will actually be able to discern between things that are of God that are seeking to manipulate your heart and the heart of God.
Who has the authority to stir you heart? What are you letting stir you up? Are you allowing your heart to be influenced and even manipulated by those outside the faith?
2.) We need to examine and let God examine our hearts. Psalm 26:2 – “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” A big part of walking humbly with God is giving him unrestricted access to our hearts. When we want God to be the source, we also want God to root out anything in our heart that is taking up space that He designed for himself to occupy. God wants to occupy your heart.
So, we need to be constantly letting God, through His word, through His Spirit and through His family, be about the work of examining our hearts. And, instead of getting offended when God uses one of these to shine a spotlight on an issue, (which is very easy to do when you’re talking about the heart), we need to see it as God’s fatherly love for His child. He wants what’s best for us, and this thing that is in there is isn’t His best for you.
When was the last time you let God to a gut check on you? How do we examine/let God examine our hearts?
3.) The meditations of our heart Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
One very practical way is to meditate on God, His Love, His heart, His truth, His grace. What is meditation? It’s an intense focus. It’s not like we think of it, where we are supposed to empty our minds of all thought. That’s not meditation. It’s focusing intently on God, letting our minds be consumed with Him. And as we intently focus on God, there will be other things that come to mind to distract us. Chances are, those are some things that God wants to deal with. They might not be bad things, but somehow they’ve gotten deep into our hearts and are taking up God-space.
When was the last time you intensely focused on God, His love, His heart, His truth and His grace?
4.) Hardening of the heart
One of the dangers/warnings we see in scripture is that our hearts can be hardened. In fact, God describes our hearts as hearts of stone before He does his work in us.
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened towards Moses. Some of that was Pharaoh’s doing, but we also see God’ hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Why would God do that? It’s a hard question. Pharaoh was an evil dictator, his heart was already hardened towards God as he had enslaved the 1.5 million Israelites – God’s chosen people. Romans 9 tells us that God did this to display his power. And it is God’s decision to harden a heart.
I don’t think we should walk around in fear that our hearts are being hardened. If you’re in Christ, you’re a new creation and have had a heart transplant. But, I think there are some warnings we can take. Maybe our hearts haven’t been hardened, but maybe they’re calloused. That’s the state Israel’s heart was in:
Jesus actually quotes this same passage when he’s teaching about the parable of the soil. (Matthew 13) And, he talks about why we are able to understand his parables, but others can’t. And it’s because our hearts aren’t calloused.
But, if we find ourselves having a hard time hearing and seeing God, if we find ourselves telling God what to do instead of doing what He says, if we find ourselves worrying about things in this life, if we find ourselves becoming more comfortable with the influence of the world than we are the influence of the Kingdom, we’re probably drifting towards a calloused heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:23.
5.) Trust in the Lord with all your heart/pure in heart.
Lastly (not because this is all the Bible teaches about the heart, but for now we will stop here), Jesus says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matt. 5:8. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” Prov. 3:5.
God wants to be the motive that drives our lives. He wants our hearts to be completely and entirely motivated by His love. Being pure in heart is a gift. But it’s also a both/and. God gives it to us, and we give it to him. Constantly.
Trusting God with all your heart is a daily pursuit, it not hourly and with each passing moment. It is going with God even when it doesn’t add up. It means doing what God wants even when the world’s ways seem to be so much more logical. It means that the desires of our heart are for Him, and that we are living in constant communion with Him so that we know His heart for us in all things. It is a constant state of surrender. It’s is a daily sacrificing of my life and picking up God’s life for me. It is finding my Joy in the cross and seeing everything through that lens.
I know that sounds like a lot. It is. But, this is a big deal. This is where everything begins. This is where God wants to plant his love for us. This is where He wants to dig the well that springs up in us to eternal life. It will only be out of God doing this work in us that the rest of our lives (Loving God with our mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves) will actually make sense and be attainable.
How are you doing at loving God with all your heart?