A Matter of the Heart
I don’t know about you, but I am tired, so very tired. I’m tired of so much evil and hate in this world. I’m tired of the killings, assaults, rapes, robberies, and other violent crimes that we hear of daily. I’m tired of the inhumanity of man toward man, the total disregard for one’s life or property, much less their needs, worries, and struggles. And at the end of this political season, where there seems to be no end to the finger-pointing, name-calling, and continual bashing of those with whom we disagree, I am not only tired, I am pretty much worn out and wasted. Sometimes, after hearing of some unthinkable evil, I breathe to myself: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). I just want to go home!
But then, I’m reminded of 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God waits. God loves. God does not want anyone to perish. He wants all to come to Him.
The problems in our world today are heart problems. Jesus Himself told His disciples: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19). The evil we see in our world today comes from hearts that do not know the Lord.
Unfortunately, however, those of us who know the Lord can have heart problems, too. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he confronted the scribes and Pharisees: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Are those of us who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, honestly seeking, worshiping, and honoring Him with our hearts? Are we seeking His will, obeying His Word, or are we picking and choosing those things that support what we think? Are we using His Word, sometimes out of context, to promote our own agendas or to justify our positions? Or, even worse, have we left the truths contained in Scripture and are instead promoting false doctrines? The Bible warns us: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).
What does God see when He looks at my heart? Does He see a heart that is truly His? James tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Paul gave Timothy some advice that can help us in our world today. In 2 Timothy 2:22-26, he told Timothy to –
- Flee youthful lusts,
- Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart,
- Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife,
- Do not quarrel,
- Be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
- Correct those who are in opposition, with humility, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Here again, we see God’s desire that those who do not know Him might be won over through the actions, attitudes, and love of those whose hearts are truly His.
Next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Each year I like to reflect on all those things for which I am thankful. Inevitably, they always come down to the incredible riches I have because God loved me and sent His Son to save me. And God wants that for every person He created. He offers it to everyone, but each person has to make that choice. For those of us who have received that gift, let us not grow weary. Let us allow the love of God to compel us to live courageously and joyfully, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). May we, too, endure the struggle, knowing that while our ultimate victory has already been won through Christ, we still have work to do so that the hearts of others may turn to Him. It really is a matter of the heart!
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).