With the arrival of Valentine’s Day, people take the opportunity to affirm that their hearts are still devoted. Candy and flowers will greatly be incorporated in the process, as well as a few dinners and selected words of praise offered in cards. I guess it’s not a bad idea to do that every so often to make sure our hearts are in the right place. In all likelihood, these affirmations of devotion should really be incorporated into everyday behavior, not just once a year.
The problem with Valentine’s Day is that candy, flowers, and cards really don’t mean all that much if the giver’s heart is in the wrong place. In fact, if it’s just a gesture, not backed with devotion of the heart, it’s really of negligible value. We need to do a “heart-check” every now and then to make sure the things we are doing and saying are truly representative of how we feel in our hearts. We need to be careful to not let those conveyances be mere words, but carry with them true meaning.
This can happen in our spiritual walks as well. Just like we have a medical heart-check every now and then to make sure we are healthy, it is a good idea to take “inventory” of our spiritual hearts as well. We get so “Used” to spinning off words and phrases of “Christianeze” that we fail to take these words to heart. “I will obey you, God.” “I trust in You, Jesus.” “I want to do your will, God.” “I love you, Lord.” These quick prayers can be dangerous if they are rote, and lacking sincerity. They can lull us into thinking we are in an obedient and loving relationship with God. The big question is, “Do we feel it?” Do we own it? Is it really part of our beings?
God had an issue with the nation of Israel along this same line as they said things they didn’t mean. More specifically, Jesus had an issue with the Pharisees, who promoted their laws rather than being obedient to God out of love. In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus chided the Pharisees as he quoted the Isaiah passage. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” He called them hypocrites because they did not personally embrace the things they were teaching regarding God; rather, they substituted their legalistic fabrications.
The parallel passage in Mark adds, “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” The Pharisees had lost touch with their hearts, and the heart of God. The end result was vain worship, which was useless; it had no result of value.
What a scary position to be in, having carelessly abandoned the commandment of God and letting our hearts be far away from His will, all the while mouthing plastic obedience. That’s why it’s a good thing from time to time to take inventory, to examine our hearts to assure they are in alignment with the will of God. Not only should we be doing the right things, but we should be doing them for the right reasons -love for our God. That takes time. It takes investment. Just like our human relationships blossom and grow with increased time and communication, so does our relationship with our Lord. Time in the Word. Time in Prayer.
Don’t lose touch.
Check your heart.
Honor God with your words and your heart.
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]