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Good Intentions and a Pure Heart

Good Intentions and a Pure Heart

The book of Jeremiah, chapter 17, verses 9 and 10-

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”

How many times have you heard someone say, “follow your heart”? Or “listen to your heart”?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and student of His Word, you know that the heart is not what we are suppose to follow or listen to at all but rather God and His Word.

A lot of times the things we find in the Bible go perfectly against what our hearts want to do. That’s because the heart is deceitful and wicked, and the Word of truth, well, it’s the exact opposite.

This verse from the book of Jeremiah also says that the LORD searches our hearts, tests our minds.

That’s not great. Right? Like He is looking into the most deceitful and wicked part of us.

The rest of that verse says God does this in order to give every man according to his ways and the fruit of his doings. So, this must mean that what lies within our hearts matters even more than our actions… right? Because He looks at our hearts and minds- our insides, to know about our outsides. What’s the purpose for what we do? What lies behind the scenes?

So let’s take for instance, if two people both volunteer their time for their community. Same hours, same amount of work but one is doing it for the selfies to post on social media and get people to look at her and say she is a “good person” and the other is doing it because she genuinely loves people because she is earnestly trying to follow in the steps of her Heavenly Father, only one out of those two people are going to be rewarded. Not because of their actions, but because of their heart behind their actions.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, you might have just become incredibly offended. I hear you babe. I use to be right where you are. Before I surrendered my entire being to Jesus and His truth and will, I was a humanist. If you were to rewind 5 years and read my old, old blog posts they were all about WE can make ourselves happy if we just find the beauty in the world around us and look at the little things and be grateful. We are able to accomplish our dreams and follow our hearts and yada yada yada. This kind of thinking was what kept me in bad relationships, led me to make incredibly selfish decisions and hurt people.

But I know where you are coming from.

I had a friend, who is sadly passed away now, but we once had a conversation about this very topic. We were walking around the city streets of a place I used to live. He said to me, loosely quoted, “Lydia, I don’t believe in God because all humans only ever do things out of selfishness. Think about it.” And I thought about it. And I thought about it… and I thought about it. I knew he was wrong but from experience… He was fully correct.

After all, at the time, I had only ever lived for myself. Unsaved by Jesus Christ, I was the main character of the story and lived to serve myself and be “happy”. Sure, I wanted to be a “good person” but I wanted to be a good person because I knew it would look good to others. And God? Well I talked to Him, read my Bible… but, I wasn’t surrendered to Him. My life, safety, future, relationships… those things were mine.

Then, one day I was kneeling on my bedroom floor. I had just finished playing the song, “How Can it Be” By Lauren Daigle on my guitar and I was staring blankly at the lyrics when it hit me… I can’t be good on my own. That past year I had done some truly terrible things that I believed I would never recover from. I was just so angry with myself that I Could. Not. Just make the right choices. I COULD NOT just be good! What was wrong with me?

Kneeling there, staring at those lyrics, it dawned on me. God opened my blind eyes and revealed to me that no, I could not be good on my own because all goodness rests in Him, He is the source and without Him within me, His Spirit dwelling in me, I could not produce goodness.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (The gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 5).

I FELT that to my core. I tried and tried and tried to do good, be who I knew I should be but there wasn’t any light in me to do it with. I was dead lady, and I felt dead.

The letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 1 attests to this, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

So, it’s not like we are just hangin’ in there, with a little bit of light, just waiting for more light. Dead means dead. And that is what I was before Jesus Christ breathed life into me and gave me a brand-new heart. One that desires to follow Jesus. Like God prophesies of in Ezekiel 36:26. I am now living as a slave to righteousness (“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (The letter to the Romans, Chapter 6, verse 18)).

We are going to be enslaved by sin or righteousness. We can’t deny that this world is in tension between those two forces. If you are a slave to sin, like I use to be, we cannot achieve righteousness. We will always end in sin. If we are slaves to righteousness, we will not be able to live in sin. That doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes, mess up, hurt people, etcetera. But it does mean that after we commit those things, we will feel the guilt that disobedience brings. We will be brought to repentance.

Okay, I have gotten a little off track, but that is all so necessary to address.

My desire is to relay to you the importance of heart checks. That is our practical application of all this. Now that we have kind of a reference point of what this challenge is, we can look for ways to tackle it.

Heart checks are just taking a minute to look and see what we are serving, why we are doing what we are doing. If we make a decision, we should know what the heart was behind it and make sure it’s pure. Sometimes this might require digging deeper than we would like but sometimes that is exactly what we need, and lady, don’t we know God’s worth it?

Do you ever get super bogged down trying to figure out if an action is God’s will or not??? If not, you are the only one! Just kidding, but seriously, I hear people question this all the time, see blogs, hear podcasts and sermons on deciphering the will of God. I have always been and still have to work really hard to not be terrified of stepping outside of His will. It always just seemed like an impossible thing to figure out.

But here is the thing, rewind to the first part of this discussion. Our actions do not matter nearly as much as our heart behind them. We can build hospitals and feed children and do great awesome philanthropic work but if our heart is dark, dead, and hard… babe, it does not equate to anything at all. Paul addresses this when he writes to Romans and says in chapter 3, verses 27 and 28, “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Is your heart full of faith or selfish desire?

The book of Isaiah Chapter 64, verse 6, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

God’s desire is for our hearts to be beating for Him. To serve His purposes, reflect His glory. When we question His will, lets question our intentions first and foremost. Are we desiring to do something because it is going to point people to God’s glory or to point people to our own? Are we speaking and acting out of love and worship for ourselves or love and worship for God?  Are we afraid to do something because we want to protect ourselves? Because, to an extent, that is worshipping ourselves.

What is our heart behind it?

What God’s will is and if your intentions are godly, go hand in hand.

All in all we are powerless without God, powerless to have a clean heart. With God and His power our new heart will be set on Him and His ways.

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but really, maybe that’s the road to heaven… Good intentions and a pure heart, one that desires to serve God with everything it’s got.

 

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