Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Heart Is The Key

The secret to everything in this world and in the world to come is the heart. Riches, fame. possessions are all empty promises, none of which holds the happiness we hope they will bring. In fact, these things, for which we seek with all our energy, often lead to our destruction. It does not matter if we seek it locally or nationally, big or small, grand or moderate, anything outside of the heart will fail to bring us what we hope for. It is better to have a little and be surrounded by loving friends and family then to have riches and fame and be surrounded by like-hearted people.

The Kingdom of God is found in the hearts of people. It is no coincidence that Jesus taught so much on the heart, perspective and attitude. From the Old Testament onward God has told us that he wants all of our passion. He does not want a small portion of your attention and devotion; he wants all of your heart so that he is constantly on our mind and our desire is to honour him in everything we do. It is in the heart of our spirit that we commune with God's Spirit, where we are instructed, where we come to understand, where we worship. If our heart is divided we suffer in our relationship.

Jesus taught us:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)

That should be a good starting point for a time of reflection. What do you consider to be of great value to you? Is it your health, wealth, time, job, education, family, marriage? These are all admirable things. You probably thought I was going to mention things like alcohol, smoking, drugs and other such vices. It doesn't really matter what I mention here because anything that comes before Jesus is wrong. If he is not our greatest treasure then everything else is messed up. If Jesus comes first then everything else comes with a pure motive. We want to have good health so that we can serve Jesus better. We use our wealth to honour him. We want to do well in our job to bring him glory. Our educational aims are then guided by his will. Instead of worshiping the family we train our family to worship him. It is all a matter of the condition of our heart.

Now the problem is that we are great deceivers and the greatest person we deceive is ourself. You see, no one knows our heart except for us and God. When we tell lies about our condition, how we feel, what we think, no one else knows the truth. We can pull off the greatest deception, pretending to be something we are not and no one else knows. However, we find something in Proverbs that should give us food for thought:

If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” 
   does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? 
Does not he who guards your life know it? 
   Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:12)

Oh there are better verses that I could use to make my point but I like this one; "does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?" We can lie to ourself for so long that we actually start believing that it is the truth, but regardless of how much we are convinced by it God knows the truth. I think many of us lose sight of  the fact that our heart is the key and God knows everything it contains; all our motivations for the many actions we take. We may be able to fool others, we may be able to fool ourselves but there is no fooling God.

Psalm 24 asks these questions:

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? 
   Who may stand in his holy place? (Psalm 24:3)

Who indeed? What right do we have to approach our holy God in all our filth and dirt of humanity. We are clothed in lies and deceptions, in cheating and selfishness. The psalmist answers his own question:

He who has clean hands and a pure heart, 
   who does not lift up his soul to an idol 
   or swear by what is false. (Psalm 24:4)

Now which of us meets that criteria? Clean hands and a pure heart? Are your hands filthy from sin? Could you possibly consider your heart pure? Remember that Jesus taught that sin is not only what we do with our hands but it is also what we allow to be birthed in our hearts. Of course we do not met these requirements and it is the reason Jesus had to do what he did. It is the only way that our filthy, terrible hearts could be transformed, cleansed and purified; not by our effort but by his grace. What we could not do he has done for us. But we have to confess it. Repentance should be a constant state of heart. As sin is birthed we confess it before it can take root and action. It is so important that we are honest with Jesus all the time. We can never fool him so the best thing is to be honest about our weaknesses and we will be given strength.

We should realize that our heart is a form of gate for us. What it permits through becomes part of us. This is the reason I like the imagery of Psalm 24:

Lift up your heads, O you gates; 
   be lifted up, you ancient doors, 
   that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? 
   The LORD strong and mighty, 
   the LORD mighty in battle. 
Lift up your heads, O you gates; 
   lift them up, you ancient doors, 
   that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is he, this King of glory? 
   The LORD Almighty— 
   he is the King of glory. (Psalm 24:7-10) 

What do you do about the condition of this gate? Lift it up to the King of glory and allow him in, to take full possession; not a portion but the whole. May he be our greatest treasure. May he be the source of our motivation in everything we do. May he be the teacher, the guide, the wisdom of our heart. May he be the greatest lover of our soul and the only one we surrender to. The heart is the key to who or what possesses you; may it be Jesus, now and forever more.

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