How many of y’all have seen the video on Facebook by Christian comedian John Crist where he says “Check your heart” in response to everything? It cracked me up because I do hear Christians say it quite often, usually in a joking way. But after my Bible reading yesterday, I think I–and all of us–need to take this statement a little more seriously.
In Isaiah chapter one, the prophet Isaiah is introducing where the children of Israel are in their life. And it’s not good. God said in verse two, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Much of the chapter is expressing God’s disappointment and disgust at how the nation of Israel was living, including their sacrifices to Him.
Wait. Their sacrifices? The ordinances He laid out at the beginning of this whole story? Yep. But why?
The change in tone in verse sixteen gives us insight. “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings. . .” Their heart wasn’t in it. They were simply doing the bare minimum: doing what they thought God wanted them to do, but only what He wanted them to DO. They forgot about what He wanted them to BE. He called to them in verse eighteen, “Come now, and let us reason together.” He wanted to commune with them. He wanted to have a relationship with them. He wanted them to be “willing and obedient” (verse nineteen) instead of rebellious.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s easy to give a list of rules and do your best to follow it. It’s not easy to understand the reason why you have the rules, and to make sure you’ve being obedient with your whole heart. Jefferson Bethke said, “No matter what the issue is, we as humans prefer rules and regulations, laws, and checklists to Jesus Himself . . . We love to live by the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. We do this because the rules are quicker and easier.” (https://jeffandalyssa.com/the-idolatry-of-modesty/) But God doesn’t just want us to give of our actions. He wants our whole heart.
You can put on a good show, just like the Israelites in Isaiah chapter one, but God sees your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that the Lord looks at the heart. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins.” While you may be able to fool those around you, trust God’s Word when it says you cannot hide from God. However, you won’t be able to hide your true desires from the people around you forever. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” You may be able to keep up the charade for a while, but eventually what is in your heart will come out.
Don’t be like the Israelites. Don’t be inwardly rebellious. (Just to clarify, don’t be rebellious at all!) Don’t convince yourself that everything’s fine just because you show up when you’re supposed to. God knows. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”
Why you do what you do? Do you only honor God with your mouth? Or are you serving Him with all that you are? Check your heart.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence [keeping]; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23