Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The ABC’s of Discernment: H is for Heart

Knowing the difference between good and evil is not enough. We know we should obey our parents, but still we come home after curfew. We know lying is wrong, but still we stretch the truth to avoid a reprimand from our boss. We know the Bible says, “Do not steal, do not lie, do not covet, do not worry,” and yet we still do these things. No, the head is not our problem. Our problem lies with the heart:

“The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean.” (Matthew 15:18-20, NIV)

To complicate matters further, this heart corruption affects the whole person, including our ability to separate good from evil. We say, “Lies are evil,” yet we justify that truth stretching: It’s not a lie, not really. Or so we say to ourselves.
So how can we bring good things out of our hearts?

First, we need a heart replacement. By nature, our heart is corrupt. So even if we fill our heart with good things, everything put in will be corrupted, and our hearts will still spew garbage. However, God took on human form in Jesus Christ, who died to kill that corruption and then rose again to replace the corruption with life. So through those acts of God, our hearts can be made new and fresh.

Once we have new heart, we must then fill it with good things. What are those good things? As we saw last week, they are good presentation (“pleasing to the eye”) and good content (“good for food”). Yet these guidelines oft feel vague. What qualifies as good presentation? What makes for good content? Thankfully, God inspired Paul to write Philippians 4:8 to explain:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)

And if these things are worth dwelling on (part of the meaning of think in this verse), then they are worth putting into our hearts.

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