“You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say.” (Psalm 17:3 NLT)
The real measure of a person’s life isn’t what’s found in their head, but what’s in their heart. I can say and do many right things, but if my heart is wrong, at least from the standpoint of what pleases the Lord, I’ve said and done them in vain.
King David understood this principle when he wrote: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NLT) And in Psalm 119:11 the writer records: “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Vance Havner wrote: “It is not the Word hidden in the head but in the heart that keeps us from sin.”
Why does it matter? There are at least two issues this topic addresses. First, if a person’s relationship with God is built and dependent upon knowledge, that which is conceived, pondered, considered, and followed predominantly from an intellectual perspective, they very likely aren’t following the God of the Bible. Why would I say that?
Jesus quotes Isaiah in Matthew 15:8-9 when He says: “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.” Then again in Matthew 22:37 Jesus says: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Yes, of course, the heart will often reflect the understanding of the mind, but the point is, we cannot love the Lord with our mind alone.
The Gospel can be understood with our mind, but if we don’t respond with our heart, it’s valueless. It’s not what we know to be true that saves us, it’s our willingness to respond to that Truth, opening our heart and yielding our will to the governing presence of God’s Holy Spirit.
This is not to say that we follow with “blind faith,” a faith that is built on emotion void of a reasoned understanding. It’s not an “either or,” but a “both and” consideration. We need a faith that’s built on a clear understanding of God’s Word, but which is applied through a surrendered heart.
Which leads to the second issue that needs to be considered. Notice the Psalmist instructed us to hide God’s Word in our heart, “that I (we) might not sin against You.” How do we hide God’s Word in our heart? Primarily by memorization.
Reading casually, even if we read every day, will not suffice. Especially if we’re reading to fulfill an obligation or to satisfy a spiritual commandment. We’ve got to read every word with attentiveness and if we lose our train of thought, go back, and read it again. The point is not how much you read, but how much you understand and are hiding in your heart.
If a verse stands out, write it down on a 3 X 5 card. On the other side write the reference. Have an ongoing list of 8-10 verses you’re committing to memory. Why is that important? If you’re speaking with someone on a break at work, in a casual setting, on an airplane, etc. you likely won’t have your Bible with you. But if you can draw verses quickly from your memory, the Lord can use His quoted Word to apply Truth to the heart of the one with whom you’re speaking.
Here’s the bottom line: We need an informed faith that stirs the heart to share God’s love with others in order that our lives bless people and glorify God.
Blessings, Ed 😊
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