July 13 I Saturday
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” —Proverbs 4:23
One major theme from the Sermon on the Mount is a recognition that what we are, is more important than what we do. What we do are only symptoms and sometimes we look at the symptoms—good or bad symptoms—but we do not understand that the root cause stems from the heart. When Jesus preached His Sermon on the
Mount, He asked some diagnostic questions for His listeners to evaluate their hearts.
Jesus states, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’” (Matthew 5:21). Many may attest that they have not murdered anyone, but Jesus adds, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Jesus gives another diagnostic question by saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’” (Matthew 5:27). Again, many could testify that they have not committed adultery, but Jesus continues, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). People probably wondered, “What in the world is Jesus talking about with anger and lust?” While murder and adultery are an act, anger and lust are an attitude. Jesus is saying that it is not what we do that is in itself the essential issue; it is what we are that underlies what we do.
To understand this biblical diagnostic, we must come to terms that our problem lies with our heart. The LORD said in the Old Testament, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). The prophet Jeremiah also records, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart is corrupted. If we do not believe this, we will continue to be shocked by the secrets and sometimes open the appetites of our own hearts to further sin.
We need to recognize that the issue lies with our heart. Although repentance may seem like an immediate quick fix to the heart of the matter, it goes beyond this initial act. We are to live our lives in a continual spirit of repentance, surrendering our sinful hearts to God daily. It is an attitude, an ongoing disposition of our hearts, where we live apart from the symptoms of our old, natural self and walk in newness with Him.
Prayer: Dear God, my heart is wicked, deceitful and above all, corrupted. Thank You for forgiving me of my wicked ways and for creating me new. Help me to walk in Your Spirit.