Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart Change is Service to God

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Love of God, others and ourselves is connected. We love God first and thus learn how to love ourselves so that we can love others. And since the love of God, our selves and others involves service, we must understand how service, to be truly of God, comes out of, and does not precede, the love of God.

So how do we get there? How do we get to the loving of God, our selves and others? I believe we get there by agreeing with God that this is a matter of heart change; our heart change. God alone knows the heart of each one of us (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10, Matthew 9:4, John 2:24-25, 1 Corinthians 2:11, verse). Jesus can change hearts (Matthew 18:2-4, John 3:1-21).

God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s changing of hearts can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. I know from personal experience that heart alignment can be successful in some areas sooner than in others. It will be different for each of us; which is why we aren’t to compare ourselves with anyone but instead come back and compare ourselves to where God is taking us and how well we are faring. Are we being rebellious or lazy or clinging to our “rights” and “independence?” That will slow down our alignment.

But if pursued with all belief that God will and can do it, this journey of giving our hearts to God for cleansing and re-birth is the most worthwhile journey one can embark upon. Everything else flows out of it. 

When our hearts change, we change. And not only that, we are freed from the control of petty grievances, grudges and need-for-human-approval. It eliminates the emptiness and incredulity that, “No matter what I do or who I live with, life seems lacking. I keep sensing there has to be something more. But the more I strive, the less gratified I am.” 

Heart change replaces fullness of self with fullness of the knowledge of God.

See, once we become saved and place ourselves willingly under the Lordship of Christ, we must let Him do what He must with our hearts. And that might mean a cessation of all the “doing” currently taking place. Oh, God has indeed planned things in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but he must also be given authority to prepare our hearts for the things He has planned for us. And the first thing to “do,” the first order of “service,” is to work on our hearts.

Motivation, compassion, love, forgiveness, integrity, honesty, our perception of others, thought-life, speech and every action is tied to the heart (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:11, 18-19; Mark 7, Luke 6:45).

Service is to be to God alone for a reason: God keeps all the worldliness and our sinful egos out. He alone keeps our service pure.

Without a heart transformation, service runs the risk of becoming for us. It starts out innocent enough, but then gradually over time we feel we aren’t getting noticed, or others aren’t working as hard as we are, or we aren’t getting the results, and we become frustrated and jaded and maybe even grouchy with other people.

Service, when not of God in every way, runs the huge and likely risk of being tainted. That is why Scripture commands, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men...It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24, in part). It’s no coincidence that “heart” is the root word of heartily.

This is the only way to keep our service pure. If we think we can serve on our own terms without our sinful nature rearing its ugly head, we will miss out on being a part of God’s miraculous ability to bring about His service through hearts made right by Him. We will miss out on what it means to serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2).

True and joyful service blooms out of the first service: cooperating with God in His aligning our hearts with His. When this has happened, we will not decide how, to whom and where we will serve, but God will. And He will equip our hearts accordingly.

We will not serve out of a need for affirmation from people, but will serve and be pleased with the “Well done” from God alone.

We will not serve out of pride, in order to receive accolades and “thank-you” from people, but out of a grateful, humble heart that God would prepare something for us to do that He actually does through us (Philippians 2:13).

We will not serve because the pastor, women’s Bible study leader or anyone else said we “should,” or goaded us into service through flattery of our God-given gifts. We will serve because God brought it about, perhaps through the suggestion of another legit Christian (God works through others just like He works through us), but always with the right motivation. If we are serving out of duress, obligation or pride in our talents, and not foremost out of a strong conviction and peace that this is where God wants us, then we are serving man first, out of pride first.

If we truly want to serve God in God’s way, we will serve Him by asking Him to align our hearts with His. We can make Psalm 51:10 our sincere prayer and desire: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” 

And then we can expect God to do just that as we continue to desire for God to do just that. It may take time, and will involve intentional Bible reading, application and prayer, but we will see our hearts gloriously, freeingly changed.

copyright Barb Harwood

"The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." 1 Timothy 1:5

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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