October 28 I Thursday
2 Timothy 2
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” —Ezekiel 36:26
Most of us are accustomed to speaking of “the heart” as something different than a physical organ we need to pump blood throughout our bodies. Of the 570 uses of the word “heart” in Scripture, almost all of them are used in a metaphorical sense.
The heart is the action centre of our lives. It is where the mind, the will and emotions come together and form the basis of character. It is where our attitudes, dispositions and feelings reside. When Scripture speaks of a hardened heart, it is one that is unbending, resistant and rebellious, such as the heart of Pharaoh. When the Bible calls our hearts proud, it refers to an attitude of self-righteousness, thinking oneself better than another. When Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21), He was saying the things we value most are where we place our time, energy and aspirations.
One of the most important biblical references to our hearts is found in the opening verse of this devotion. God sent Israel into exile because they defiled His holy name. Their hearts were corrupted by disobedience and idolatry. They had hardened hearts that were proud and unbending, believing their way was better. Ezekiel was prophesying that God would bring His people home and give them new hearts that would be moved to follow His commands. This took place on the day of Pentecost when God poured out His Holy Spirit from heaven to indwell the hearts of those who believed in Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we are the people of God indwelt by His Spirit, and it is within our hearts that the life-transforming work of God begins. He changes us from the inside out, first with a hunger and thirst for righteousness that begins to express itself in Christ-like attitudes and behaviour. It is not because we are more determined and disciplined than before, but our hearts have become soft and pliable, allowing room for the Holy Spirit to work within us.
This does not mean our struggle with sin is at an end. Though Christ indwells us, we still retain our sinful natures, and are constantly facing an inner battle between temptation and the good we want to do. We will falter and fail, but what people will see is hardness turn to compassion, greed to generosity, despair to hope and hatred to forgiveness and love. In Christ, our hearts of stone have been removed and the evidence of a new heart will be conveyed in a myriad of ways that reflect the image of Christ. This is the goal of the gospel and God’s intent and desire for us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for turning my heart of stone into a heart where You make Your home and work in me. Help me, Lord, to surrender all to You. In Your precious Name, I pray.