Getting A New Heart

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.’” -Zechariah 7:9-10 (ESV)

It begins with the heart. Out of our hearts, our actions flow. When we see oppression, injustice, deceit, and wanton cruelty in the world it is easy to condemn the perpetrator of such acts as diabolical and purely evil in every fiber of his being. But is the problem with the person or with the heart? God does not create imperfect people. It would go against His nature as a perfect Creator. The real problem is with a heart that has been tainted by the reality of living in a fallen world. The oppressor must have his heart cleansed from his sinful nature and have a spiritual liberation just as much as the oppressed needs both a spiritual and physical liberation. We must acknowledge that we all have the same fallen heart and thus we are all prone to become tyrants and deceivers.

What then is the remedy for a fallen heart? It is but one simple word. Jesus. Only He is able to cleanse the heart and purge it of all sin. We simply cannot because sin is a major problem that we are too small to handle. No matter how hard we may try to purge ourselves of wickedness, it will never work because our hearts, without Christ residing in them, will only continue to persist in leaning towards evil and doing everything that is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Our hearts without Christ want to be independent and free of any sort of outside control. By being so we allow ourselves to engage in all sorts of foul indulgences. These fallen hearts deceive us with a false sense of freedom and thus we become enslaved to sinful habits and patterns of behavior. Only through a breaking down of all the pride in our hearts that tells us that we are gods unto ourselves can we humbly submit to a God who grants us freedom from our fallen nature by obedience to Him. Only then can we render true judgments, show kindness and mercy, avoid becoming oppressors, and abstain from plotting evil in our hearts. May we continually ask God to purge our hearts of evil so that through Him we may be able to do good

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Be Kind Anyway!

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” -Hebrews 6:10 (NIV)

How often do we wonder if our charity towards others seems to go unnoticed? While some may truly show their gratitude towards your efforts to act generously and graciously towards them, others may never show their appreciation. In extreme cases, they may even blatantly show their ungratefulness and make it known to you. When those around us have taken advantage of and walked upon our kindness, often we wonder, why do we even bother? It would seem to be in our best interest to withhold our charity from everyone, lest we should be hurt and trampled upon yet again.

Somehow, we have gotten the false view that charity is dependent on us. For most, whether we admit it or not, charity is self-serving. We want to hear people thanking us or showing their gratitude because it elevates our ego and sense of purpose. Since we have this need to fulfil we tend to be elated when someone compliments us on the charity we perform. However, when people stab us in the back and walk all over our charity, suddenly we don’t feel like serving others anymore because they have deprived us of inflating our egos and have crushed our sense of purpose.

True charity is not dependent on the actions of others. Neither is it dependant on one’s own feelings. It is only dependant on adopting a Christ-like nature which can only be achieved once a person has allowed Christ to work in his life by accepting and believing in His redemptive sacrifice. Humanity spat on, mocked, and crucified Christ; never realizing that Christ came to die for every human being in every period of time, be it the past, the present, or the future. Even now we trample upon the image of Christ when we persist in our sin. Yet He never gives up on us. Despite our failings, He continues to actively seek the redemption of the world and the sanctification of believers, so that sin’s chains may be finally broken. The Christian should not perform charity to get something out of it; rather he should expect nothing in return, not even the praise or approval of men. When one seeks to perform charity because it glorifies His Redeemer, it gives them the strength to perform and continue to perform acts of kindness despite whatever the recipient may think. It has been said that no one has been impoverished because he gave too much and God has a way of preserving those who are faithful to Him in loving and serving others without any strings attached.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Are We Redeemers?

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” -Luke 19:10 (ESV)

Humans love to think that they are all-powerful. That somehow they alone can wrestle with the evil and circumstances that impede their path to glory and happiness, and can do the same for others. Such heroism is not necessarily a bad thing. It often serves as an impetus to address the injustices of the world instead of sinking into a defeatism that renders a person immobile. However, the problem with such an attitude lies in the fact that humans are not all-powerful. If it were so, the world would not be in the state it is in.

Yet it is so easy to think that the fate of everything in this world rests on us and our actions. Even Christians are not exempt from this. How often do Christians catch themselves attempting to take responsibility for the salvation of another person? As if to say that it was by their efforts that the person in question came to a living faith in Christ. Such self-congratulatory attitudes take the glory away from God and place it on human beings. If Christians were solely responsible for the salvation of man, then what is the need for the Holy Spirit who is supposed to work in the world for the redemption of man and strengthen the faithful until the Day of Judgment? Furthermore, even though Christians have Christ working in them, their stubbornness often hinders the work of God in their lives. Therefore, how can an imperfect human redeem another imperfect human? It is important to remember that redemption is the realm of God and not of men. Our responsibility on Earth is to tell the message of Christ. Whether or not they choose to accept the message is between them and God. We should neither force a person to come to Christ nor should we be discouraged when they don’t. Jesus Himself said that believers should move on when they encounter apathy from others towards His message. God will continue to work in the hearts and lives of those who have heard His message as a result of our obedience to His call for us. But He will also work in the lives of people where believers are not present. God wants us to be active participants in His mission. However, we must be ever so mindful of our place in His redemptive plan. We are His agents, but we are not redeemers.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.