Thursday, July 19, 2007

Getting to the heart of the matter

Why is it that some people say fasting once a week, praying, reading your Bible every morning for 30 minutes, going to church weekly, obeying God, not going to rated R movies, tithing a minimum of 10%, not drinking alcohol, or exercising are legalistic while others see that these are the farthest thing from legalism?

To answer that question, let's use the following illustration:

You have two sons: ages 10 and 12. You have a rule in your family that they must clear their dishes after dinner, rinse them, and put them in the dishwasher. Both boys do this every day. However, the actions of one of the boys is very legalistic while the others actions do not even have a hint of legalism. How can this be? Well, let's look a little deeper into the scenario. You see, the first boy does this chore because he wants to show his parents honor, respect, and love. His motives are pure. The other boy does his chore because he knows if he doesn't he will not get any dessert. His motives are corrupt and selfish.
Can you see the difference? The difference is in the heart. Is your heart pure? Is your motivation pure and Godly?

What is your motivation? Is it your happiness, your comfort, your reputation, your acceptance, your desire to avoid pain? Or, is it a heart-felt desire to obey God, to follow Jesus, and to glorify the Lord? How you answer this question matters tremendously. It is all about the condition of your heart – your motivation. Is your motivation (heart) turned to you or is it turned to God.

Here’s how Paul addresses it when he wrote to Titus:

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. - Titus 1:15-16
We cannot go around telling someone they are being legalistic unless we truly know their heart. Instead, what I would encourage is that we all daily examine our own hearts and make sure they are pure, circumcised, and repentant.

Do you cry out, like David did, “create in me a clean heart O’ God. Renew a right spirit within me.” Is this your prayer? Is this your deepest desire? Are you willing to allow this to happen? You will have to give up yourself for this to happen. The focus must change from self to God. Do you know what that is to turn from a self focus to a God focus? It is repentance. It is exchanging your desires and the things of this world for a life lived solely for God.

We must have a circumcised heart, a pure heart, a repentant heart otherwise everything we do will be tainted and filthy in the sight of God. Even the good stuff we do will be ugly and considered legalistic.
Characteristics of a pure / circumcised heart:
· Repentance
· A deep desire to know God
· A desire to Love God
· A desire to touch God
· A desire to live every moment with God
The pure heart will live every day for God. The pure heart will be motivated out of love to be in his word, be in prayer, stay away from the world (sin), and love his neighbor. To the pure in heart all of this stuff is not legalistic. It is pure, it is clean, and it is lovely. It is a matter of the heart, an affair of the heart, a heart issue.


Gord said...

Great post. It got me thinking about my heart and my motivations for serving God. A great reminder to pay close attention to "the heart of the matter." God Bless.

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Milton Stanley said...

Good word, Eric. I quoted your post liberally this morning. Peace.