By John Miltenberger 2/27/2017
For the last two or three weeks, not a day has gone by that I’ve not considered what I’ve termed “Issues of the heart”. First, just to clear the air and my conscience, let me confess that I have always found it easy to judge others, and I have often done so. I know I’m not alone in this fault, but that doesn’t mitigate it for me. Most people are very much alike, but that only means we all need a Savior.
In the last several weeks, here are some of the things God has shown me concerning heart issues:
One thought I’ve continually stumbled over is this, and it seems to be the root of the others: God looks upon our hearts. Before you say that’s common knowledge, think first how enormous this information truly is. There is no fooling God. Jew, Gentile, believer or unbeliever, God knows our hearts. We can’t even honestly say we know our own hearts, but God not only looks upon our hearts, He knows them intimately, and always has. All the faces we put on to fool others, even ourselves – do not fool Him. Our true selves are always on display to Him. That can be a bit unnerving. It’s a lot more comfortable to think we can pick and choose when and how much we reveal ourselves to Him, but that is not true; it is a lie, and a self-deception we practice often, but in vain.
Another thought that ties into the first about God knowing our hearts, is that I and we, have no authority to judge another’s heart in the sense of assigning or placing a value on them. What’s more, at least on this earth, we’ll never be given that authority, and it is firmly fixed within the hands of God. If we indulge in this kind of judging, we are actually in open rebellion and guilty of usurping an authority we don’t have.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says we have the authority to judge the sinful actions of other believers (1 Corinthians 5:1-13), but nowhere does he say we have the authority to judge their persons by assigning (or un-assigning) value to them. If believers are practicing a lifestyle of sin, and we know about it, we have as family members, an obligation to confront them regarding the sin. This is first intended as a benefit to them, and then by extension, to the rest of the Church. Notice I did not include unbelievers, for sinning is normal for them, it is what they do, and is to be expected.
During worship, some congregations consider it “respectful” to sit stoically, showing no outward emotion, while at the other end of the spectrum, there are congregations where worship is loud and wild, with some falling on their faces, or jumping up and down. The heart message God has been sending me concludes with this: in every group of humans a bell curve of sincerity exists due to human nature. Chances are good that some folks will be sincere in their hearts and some will not. Most will fall somewhere in between, but God has shown me I am responsible for the condition of only one heart – my own. I am not authorized to place any kind of value judgment on the hearts of anyone else. Whichever end of the spectrum they may be on, or anywhere in between, it is absolutely none of my business, and never will be. They are not my servants; they don’t belong to me. My job assignment is to love God with all my heart and to love others to the best of my ability – and love is a choice.
If I don’t choose, consciously choose to love God and others, I become a consistent victim of my current emotional makeup and my prevailing circumstances. Love, real love, is always a choice, and the more we make the choice to love, many times in spite of others, making the choice gets easier. I’m hoping I can love others as much as I would want them to love me…in spite of myself. It runs both ways.
God is protective of His children; that’s what good parents are, and He’ll stand up for them whether they are in conflict with those outside the family or inside of it. As I want the favor of God upon my life, it is my responsibility to place myself in a position to receive it. I picture that like rain. If I want to be rained on, I need to position myself under where it is raining, and judging others without authority places me out of position, and ultimately, into a dry place.
God wants to bless us more than we can imagine; He is the best parent. I want God to get the desires of His heart, for all of my fulfillment is in His heart.
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