Our hearts pump at a rate of 70-75 beats per minute. Though weighing only 11 ounces on average, a healthy heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. Every day, the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles. In a lifetime, that is equivalent to driving to the moon and back. A healthy heart can do amazing things. Conversely, if our heart malfunctions, our whole body shuts down.
The same could be said of our “spiritual heart.” In Scripture, the word heart represents the center of our emotions, thinking, and reasoning. It is the “command center” of our life.
So when we read, “Keep your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23), it makes a lot of sense. But it’s difficult advice to keep. Life will always make demands upon our time and energy that cry out for immediate attention. By comparison, taking time to hear God’s Word and to do what it says may not shout quite so loudly. We may not notice the consequences of neglect right away, but over time it may give way to a spiritual heart attack.
I’m thankful God has given us His Word. We need His help not to neglect it, but to use it to align our hearts with His every day.
Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. —Garrison
To keep spiritually fit, consult the Great Physician.
The book of Proverbs had several contributing authors, but most of the wisdom found here was written by King Solomon. In the opening nine chapters, Solomon specifically instructs his son (and sometimes his sons) regarding the wisdom that would help him engage life in a meaningful way. Some of the themes of these chapters include the value of wisdom, the necessity of faith, the peril of deceitful women, and the danger of foolishness. Beginning in chapter 10, the book becomes a collection of general wise sayings.
“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16
When I was a boy, one of the biggest annual events in town was the circus. My dad would take us early in the morning to watch the circus trains unload the tigers, lions, elephants, monkeys, and all the other animals and paraphernalia that made the circus so intriguing.
Once the circus was set up, great attractions were lined along the midway. The midway was the walkway leading to the big tent. Vendors hawked their wares, happy music played, the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy mingled in the air, and multicolored balloons bounced in the wind. With bursts of laughter and excited screams, customers twisted and turned on amusement rides. The midway was almost more than a boy could take.
The most intriguing sights of all for me were the sideshows. Large posters advertised all kinds of physical deformity and daring feats of bravery—a man with three eyes, a bearded woman, sword-swallowers, and fire-eaters. I would pull on my dad’s hand and beg him to take me to see them, only to hear him say, “Joe, it’s a waste of money. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
This is the warning we see in 1 John 2:16. The world is a lot like the midway. Much of it is exciting. But as our Father walks us through experiences, He warns us of what will disappoint us, waste our resources, and distort and destroy us. It’s the sideshows that seduce us and endanger our experience here. Our world constantly puts us in tension with all that it offers.
This tension forces us to make up our minds about whom or what we will believe and follow. Will it be our Father or the sideshow?
When I grew up and went to the circus on my own, I couldn’t wait to put up my own money to see the sideshows—only to find out that my father had been right. My money was wasted.
It’s like that in life, but the stakes are far greater.
“And I pray that you … grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV)
When my middle son was 2 years old, he went through various stages that almost sent me to the mad house.
One of the most irritating stages was his habit of taking off his diaper after putting him to bed. Many late nights we would have to put on a fresh diaper, change his sheets and put him back to bed.
After awhile, we wised up. We started putting him into all-in-one pajamas that made it not so easy for him to accomplish his little feat.
That pretty much solved the problem.
Until one night, when my husband put the boys (ages 2 and 4) to bed. Unfortunately, he forgot about our precautionary measure of locking our toddler into his diaper.
Before long, our eldest son shouted at the top of his lungs, “Mommy! It stinks in here! Somebody needs his diaper changed!”
No worries. It happens, right?
Soon we heard urgency in our eldest son’s voice as he called out again, “MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE’S A STINKY MESS IN HERE!”
We entered their room. The smell that greeted me at the door was enough to make me want to run for my life.
Friends, we are talking yuck e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e … on the sheets, blankets, feet and smudged into the carpet. So that night, while many other mothers slept peacefully in their beds, guess what I was doing?
Cleaning up a mess.
At almost midnight and for close to an hour, I was on my hands and knees cleaning and scrubbing. I’ll spare you the gory details.
Believe it or not, the carpet today looks like nothing ever happened. Between my cleaning concoctions that fateful night and a borrowed steam cleaner the next day, I managed to handle the situation like a pro.
Of course I did. I’m a mom. That’s what moms do. We clean up after our children when necessary, because that’s what love does.
There is a lesson to be learned from the middle of this messy situation …
My son didn’t mean to make a mess. He didn’t intentionally deprive me of sleep or aim to make me uncomfortable. He didn’t mean to make me suffer for his transgression.
But I did.
And why? Because that’s what love does.
Even when he wasn’t showing me much love, I loved him anyway. And I showed my love by cleaning up a mess that I didn’t make.
My dear sister… don’t you know Jesus loves us this same way?
He saw us in our mess. He cleaned up after us. He was willing to suffer for our transgressions. And even when we aren’t showing Him much love, He loved us first and continues to love us anyway.
Because that’s what love does.
I believe with all my heart that as my son matures, he will be grateful and appreciate my sacrifices. I pray that eventually he will come to understand the width, length, height and depth of the love I have for him. Just like God’s love for us, Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).
In the same way, as we mature in our relationship with God and develop a greater understanding of why we needed His rescue, we can appreciate more and more His huge sacrifice.
Here’s the kicker – our lives, actions and attitudes should show it.
Just like mothers find a way to do what seems
… or insurmountable …
so, too, our precious Savior found a way to rescue us from our plight.
And I’m so thankful. Aren’t you?
Romans 2:1-16 (Good News Translation)
From: American Bible Society
God’s Word: Renewing Us in Faith
Romans 2:1-16: In describing God’s judgment, Paul says that those who are faithful to God will receive rewards, and those who reject God’s truth will be punished.
Today’s Scripture: Romans 2:10a
God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good.
1 Do you, my friend, pass judgment on others? You have no excuse at all, whoever you are. For when you judge others and then do the same things which they do, you condemn yourself. 2 We know that God is right when he judges the people who do such things as these. 3 But you, my friend, do those very things for which you pass judgment on others! Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or perhaps you despise his great kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely you know that God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent. 5 But you have a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are making your own punishment even greater on the Day when God’s anger and righteous judgments will be revealed. 6 For God will reward each of us according to what we have done. 7 Some people keep on doing good, and seek glory, honor, and immortal life; to them God will give eternal life. 8 Other people are selfish and reject what is right, in order to follow what is wrong; on them God will pour out his anger and fury. 9 There will be suffering and pain for all those who do what is evil, for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles. 10 But God will give glory, honor, and peace to all who do what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Gentiles. 11 For God judges everyone by the same standard. 12 The Gentiles do not have the Law of Moses; they sin and are lost apart from the Law. The Jews have the Law; they sin and are judged by the Law. 13 For it is not by hearing the Law that people are put right with God, but by doing what the Law commands. 14 The Gentiles do not have the Law; but whenever they do by instinct what the Law commands, they are their own law, even though they do not have the Law. 15 Their conduct shows that what the Law commands is written in their hearts. Their consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them. 16 And so, according to the Good News I preach, this is how it will be on that Day when God through Jesus Christ will judge the secret thoughts of all.
What does Paul say about judging others (verse 1)? Reread verses 2-11. What are your thoughts about Paul’s description of God’s judgment? Is God’s judgment fair? Why or why not?