Flashback: A Change of Heart
Have you noticed it?
When life gets uncomfortable, we want our circumstances to change; the faster, the better.
We’ll stop at no end to find ways to restore comfort as quickly as possible — even if the solutions may be harmful. Don’t believe me? Just ask the addict who has resolved to quit hundreds of times, but continues to revert to her “drug of choice” to numb the pain.
We do not enjoy being uncomfortable. But pain (emotional, physical, or spiritual) serves a purpose. Suffering invites us to look inward.
The heart is more than a physical organ. When we speak of the heart, we’re talking about thoughts and feelings that shape our behavior, inclination, and disposition.
Comfort delayed prompts us to examine the inner self and exposes our fears, will, and desires. These thoughts and feelings spring from the inner chambers of our heart — the center of human emotions; the very core of our being.
Wisdom teaches us:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. —Proverbs 4:33 (NRSV)
Jesus contrasts good and evil treasure found in the heart: “For out of the abundance of the heart [our] mouth speaks.” Good treasure does not produce evil, and evil treasure does not produce good.
Our words and actions indicate the kind of treasure within our hearts.
The heart encases more than just our mental and emotional capacity. It also encompasses our values: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 - ESV).
That’s why it’s essential to regularly pay attention to our words and actions because they reveal what we truly value. Martin Luther puts it this way:
Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.
The prophet Jeremiah was accurate when he reminded his audience, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
There’s enough violence, moral decadence, self-centeredness, and evil. It’s obvious — we definitely could use a change of heart!
It’s much more comfortable for me to look at others’ hearts — their behavior, inclination, and disposition. After all, pointing out their inappropriate words and actions is a welcomed distraction that keeps me from examining my own heart. Somehow, I find greater comfort believing that my heart is not as wicked as theirs. It’s just not right!
Long before you and I were born, the intentions of the heart of humankind have continually been evil. And the wickedness of our heart grieves God’s heart (Genesis 6:5-6). It is not inconceivable to imagine how God must mourn today. When we buy into cultural preference that disregards God’s instructions — our heart no longer values God. And, our words and actions always reflect whom and what we value.
These are challenging times. Our hearts are troubled, and like the Psalmist, we too cry, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses” (Psalm 25:17). May we, like the Psalmist, seek the face of the LORD (Psalm 27:8).
Everyone appears to desire change to alleviate their discomfort. Hopefully, this time of uncertainty and trouble will help us look inward; to allow God to examine and reveal the treasure within our hearts.
I can’t change your heart, and you cannot be responsible for changing mine. We are powerless to change our hearts. Only God can do that. So today, I pray with the Psalmist:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. — Psalm 51:17
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