Grace For The Journey
For the next several blogs, I want to cover the topic, “A Heart For God.” If there is one thing that every child of God should want and ask God for is a humble heart that genuinely loves Him, wants to know all about Him, and wants to give Him our all.
The Bible declares in Isaiah 29:13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with the lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”
This verse may sound familiar to us because Jesus quotes this verse to the Pharisees of His day (Matthew 15:8-9). They were much like the people of Judah and Jesus pronounces woe upon them as well.
At the time Isaiah proclaimed this message, God’s people were going through the motions of religion. They were doing what they are supposed to do, such as give tithes to the priests and making a sacrifice for their sins, but in their religious acts, they are not loving God. Their heart is far from God.
Our Heart And Our Affections Reveal What We Love
The Bible never talks about the human heart as being the organ which pumps blood in the body. In the Bible, the heart is the control-center of our affections. From our heart flows love, desire, fondness, cravings, and passion. Our feelings have varying degrees of intensity. The more intense our affection, the more valuable the object and the more we are willing to sacrifice to have it. Jesus pinpoints the issue in Matthew 6:12, where He says, “where our treasure is, that is where our heart is” (Matthew 6:21). In other words, the things we value and treasure, we love.
Our love of things and our affections direct our life. We make continual choices based on what we love. For example, we may hate the cold, snowy, icy winter weather of the Midwest, but we may live here because we love being near family. Our affection for our family is greater than our affection for a warmer climate. We may love to sleep in on Saturdays, but, we may wake up early during hunting season. We may hate shelling out a lot of money for a newer car, but our love for a different vehicle is greater than our dislike for the price.
We make choices depending upon our affections. Which of these is a greater affection:
- A bath or shower?
- A blockbuster movie or a walk in the park?
- A McDonalds hamburger or a giant Snickers bar?
- The Boston Red Sox? Or the New York Yankees?
We make choices every hour, and our choices are always guided by our heart.
King David is an example of someone who has affection for God. King David had a great love for God. God even said that David is a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). God sees David’s heart and affection for Him. We know of David’s heart because of what he says in several of his psalms . . .
Psalm 16:2, I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; my goodness is nothing apart from You.’” If we were to walk y David and he is talking to someone, and we hear him say, “I have no good apart from you.”
Psalm 63:3, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.”
When our affections for God exceed life, then our affections for God are at the highest peak of passion. God’s lovingkindness is of greater value to David than anything in this world. David would rather have God’s lovingkindness than gold or silver, his family, his position as king, or his health. David loves God.
We know what is in David’s heart because his lips give evidence to it. David’s heart is filled with affection for God and his lips spill out words of praise. This underscores the truth Jesus declares in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
The Greatest Commandment Reminds Us What We Are To Love
One more important thought on the topic of affections. The reason the people of Judah fell short and why God will punish them is because they fail to love God.
It is not acceptable to have a heart with no affection for God. The greatest commandment in Scripture is to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength (Matthew 12:30). The people of Judah were guilty of breaking the greatest commandment.
What does it mean to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength?
If the people of Judah love God with all their heart, then everything in their heart will be governed by God. They will love what God loves. God loves holiness, so they should love holiness. God hates idols, and they should hate idols. God desires justice, so they should desire justice. The people of Judah are guilty of not loving what God loves.
If the people of Judah love God with all their mind, they will study the arts and sciences to promote God’s glory. Their intellectual endeavors are to be born out of their love for discovering what God has made, what its purpose is, and how we are to use it for His glory. They are to banish from their understanding and memory every useless, foolish, and dangerous thought and every idea which defiles the soul and causes them to be drawn away from God. If they love God with their mind, they will never think of entertaining evil thoughts or evil ideas. Their mind will be fixed continually upon how they may please God. The people of Judah did not love God with their mind.
If the people of Judah love God with all their strength, they will exercise and eat to the glory of God. They will use their God-given muscles, talents, skills, and influence to advance their relationship with God. Their hands and feet belong to Him. Their sweat and labor are joyfully spent for Him. Their lives and their homes are built for God’s glory and fame.
God is not pleased. The people of Judah do not love God with all their heart, mind, or strength. He pronounces woe to Jerusalem because their heart is far from God. Their visits to the temple are only out of tradition and obligation, not out of love for Him and to give Him glory. They enjoy eating the feasts of the covenant, but do not enjoy the knowing and serving the God of the feasts.
God is to be our all in all; He is to be our everything. It is not an option. God commands that we have a heart full of affection for Him. We must not have a divided heart; half for this world and for God.
In Monday’s blog we will continue this discussion.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”