“the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
At St. Paul’s, we are on a journey of exploring how God has shaped us. To help us on this journey we have adopted the acronym SHAPE, which stands for: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, & Experience. This Sunday we are going to consider the second of these aspects of how we are shaped by examining the shape of our hearts.
When talking about our hearts we have to be clear about what we mean and what we don’t mean. For example, in this series we are not going to be examining the physical organ that pumps our blood. But we also don’t mean the heart in a purely romantic sense. We’re not just going to explore our emotions or our yearnings. We’re going to explore what the Bible says about the human heart, which goes much deeper than just our emotions.
When the Bible talks about the heart it’s talking about something that directly influences not only our feelings and desires but also our thinking and planning, our decision-making and even our wills. The preacher Timothy Keller describes what the Bible means when it talks about the heart in this way:
“The heart is used as a metaphor for the seat of our most basic orientation, our deepest commitments — what we trust the most (Proverbs 3:5; 23:26); it is what we most love and hope in, what we most treasure, what captures our imagination (Matthew 6:21). Every heart has an inclination (Genesis 6:5), something it is directed toward. The direction of the heart, then, controls everything — our thinking, feeling, and decisions and actions … No wonder Jesus is so concerned about our hearts.” (Tim Keller. The Revolutionary Christian Heart. timothykeller.com 2015)
Tim Keller is right. Jesus is really concerned about people’s hearts. In several places we read about his distress at people’s stubborn hearts (Mark 3:5), his concern for people whose hearts are far from God (Mark 7:6), and his warnings that what most often gets us into trouble is what comes ‘out of the heart’ (Mark 7:19, 21). But we also see him responding to the deepest needs of peoples’ hearts by bringing them fellowship, forgiveness, healing, and hope.
At St. Paul’s this Sunday we’re going to focus on Jesus’ ability to minister to, and even transform our hearts, because it’s when we allow Jesus to speak and minister to our hearts that we’re really on our way to finding and fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives.
Rev. David Turner+