START 2013 WITH A HEART EXAM
As we step into the year of 2013, I suggest you have a heart exam. Oh, I am not referring to your physical heart (although it’s not a bad idea) … I am talking about a spiritual heart exam. The word “heart” is used over 700 times in the 1984 NIV translation of the Bible so it must have some significant meaning when it comes to God’s direction to us. Unfortunately, men are hesitant to talk about issues of the heart because it is believed that such issues create vulnerability and Satan convinces us that a willingness to be vulnerable is a sign of weakness. WOW! What a lie and we know that Satan is the father of lies. I am confident that some of you reading this right now are trying to convince yourself that you don’t need to read any further. Well, push on and buckle up because it’s time for God’s men to get serious about the condition of their spiritual heart.
When the Lord was speaking to Samuel, He said “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Satan has convinced men that it is what is on the outside that counts. We say things like “the clothes make the man” and the world judges a man by his title, his accomplishments, the social company he keeps and status is based upon perception rather than fact. God’s men must remember “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” When water is calm and clear it gives an accurate reflection but when it is dark and murky the reflection is distorted and confused. The same is true of a man’s heart. If the heart is filled with things that create confusion and distortion then it is difficult for the man to reflect the image that God intended. Jesus said “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
All too often men are more concerned with behavior modification so they will be more acceptable to those they wish to receive acceptance. Jesus told the Pharisees “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Too many in the church today are simply “playing” church. God’s men must look at heart modification to be more like Jesus rather than just paying lip service to the Lord and letting the world dictate what is in their hearts. Jesus also told the Pharisee’s “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”
OUCH! Jesus wasn’t one for beating around the bush and His words go straight to the heart of the matter (no pun intended). It’s uncomfortable to think that men are more closely aligned with the Pharisees of scripture yet when we look around it seems that what is important is being justified before men rather than pleasing our Heavenly Father.
Paul gives us the key to this spiritual heart examination when he said “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
So how is your spiritual heart? Are you maintaining the proper diet and exercise for a healthy spiritual heart? Studying God’s Word, an active daily prayer life, and yielding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day are critical to maintaining a healthy spiritual heart. Dedicate yourself to regularly doing a spiritual heart exam. Don’t forget that it’s a great idea to have an accountability partner that can assist with conducting the exam. Carefully select your assistant (accountability partner) just as you would a cardiologist. You want someone that has developed the spiritual heart examination skills so they will be able to properly interpret the results and then truthfully and accurately provide you feedback of what they have found. This will result in creating a stronger and healthier spiritual heart!