The Heart of the Matter
I was thinking about a marriage. How sad it would be if there was a marriage where the wife was reading all the tips about being a good wife—things like making the meals on time or having the house all tidy for the husband (the husband, you know)—and yet is lacking in personal love and relationship. Each marriage relationship is unique to that couple and different than any other. You can’t just set a pattern for marriage and say, “To be a good wife you have to do this, this, and this, and to be a good husband you do this, this, and this—that’s how it works.”
But that’s not really how it works. True, there are basic principles that go into marriage, but to love my wife, I seek to understand her as an individual, and as I learn what she likes, it changes my behavior. In the process I form convictions of what I believe are the right things I should do to bless her. Those things wouldn’t bless me, maybe, because I’m not of the same temperament—but they bless her. If my wife had a different temperament, I would do some things differently. And on her part she is seeking to know me and honor me and understand my heart and understand how I think.
What I’m trying to get at is that clarity of conviction comes in the context of love. So it is with us and the Lord. When we have a single-hearted devotion, we love God, and just want to serve Him and please Him and be a blessing to Him. Christ is our husband—we’re the wife. And as we have that heart of loving reverence, that’s where we’re going to discover and walk in the path that will please the Lord.
But if we don’t have a heart of pursuing God, we may simply be sitting back and analyzing the Bible among ourselves without the Spirit’s assistance: “Is it right to do this? What do you think? These folks do this, and those folks wear that, and we don’t. What do you think? I feel okay about it.”
But let us rather pour out our heart before God: “Lord, lead me. I’m seeking to please You with all my heart. Please change me. If there’s something You want me to do better, show me. I’m willing to do whatever You want.”
We can’t have a selfish heart, wanting to please ourselves. The Lord has to deal with that selfishness and self-reliance. We need to let Him take it out so He can give us a pure heart of love for Him. And then our convictions are going to be shaped as God wants them to be. “Finding out what is acceptable to the Lord,” and that we “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” As the Lord shows us His heart, we can say with conviction, “No, the Lord has shown me this isn’t pleasing to Him. I don’t want to partake in that.”
2 Corinthians 1:12 says, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” (2 Corinthians 1:12)NKJV Let’s combine that with chapter five verse nine: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)NKJV Amen. That should be our aim in everything we do in life. Every decision we make, down to every detail, should be, “I want to glorify the Lord. I want Him to be well pleased with me” (1 Corinthians 10:31; John 8:29).
This reaches into every area of life. I’ve been thinking a little bit, just as an example, about the issue of modesty, because that’s a big issue—people dress differently, they have different standards, and a lot of questions come up. But as I read the scriptures about modesty, I find the real heart of the matter is God saying, “Put on the real apparel, the real adornment—Jesus. Shine forth with the character and the qualities of Christ.” I think it’s really that simple. Everything we do should be from wanting to be an expression of Christ for His sake and also to the world. Anything that would distract from that, anything that would take away from Christ being shown in us, should be laid aside. My desire in everything I do is just to be a blessing to God and to my fellow man.