As I prayed about what to write this week, God brought the title of one of my 2020 blog posts to mind—“The Heart of the Matter.” It is a very short article with just three questions and two scripture quotations. The questions are: “Have you done a heart check lately? Does your heart belong to Jesus? Does your heart love like Jesus?”1 In recent weeks, I have had to check my heart. I know my heart belongs to Jesus, so no problems there. The problems come with the next question: “Does your heart love like Jesus?” In answering this question, I have had to confront my heart and its contents.
Spoiler alert: I am not perfect. There are times when I have been known to have some thoughts that are not so nice, to act in ways and say some words that are less than kind. Yes, I have sinned in my thoughts, actions, and heart. And lately, it seems there have been a plethora of opportunities to let the thoughts and actions of my heart depart from love.
Lately, I have been angered, disappointed, and wounded. I have been criticized, ignored, and doubted. I have been disrespected. I have been devastated. And the list goes on. The unkind and inappropriate behaviors of others have put my heart to the test. I have had to make a decision whether to walk in the flesh and respond in kind, or walk in the Spirit and respond in love.
When my thoughts and actions jump on the negative train, I am not traveling with Christ. When I am busy formulating and delivering a retort, I am not letting Him speak through me. When I am obsessing over what I should have done or could have done better, and what I am going to say or do next time I get the chance, I am living in the past and not letting Him help me forgive and move into the future. All in all, when my thoughts are on myself, they are not on Him. And when my heart is wrapped up in myself, it is not wrapped up in love. And thus begin the confrontations. Francee, are you acting right? Is that how you should behave? Do you really want to say that? Would that example Christ? Jesus owns my heart for forever, but am I going to let Him own it for the moment of offense?
So, how did I pass through these recent offenses? I battled through. I poured out my heart to God. I poured out my hurt. I poured out my tears. And I asked Him to help me. To help me love. To help me forgive. To help me move on and live a life that is pleasing to Him rather than pleasing to myself.
The heart of the matter is that the heart matters, and so do the matters of it. What we allow into our hearts is what is going to spill out later. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”2 So, it is wise to confront what tries to enter our hearts, and better yet, to fill them with Christ and His love so there is no room for anything else to enter.
So, have you done a heart check lately? Does your heart belong to Jesus? Does your heart love like Jesus? Check your heart. Confront it if necessary. Let your heart belong to Jesus, and let it love like Him.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.3
1 You can access this article on my website at https://franceestrain.com. The scripture verses from the article are: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) and “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b).
2 Matthew 12:34b
3 Proverbs 4:23–27
Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 11, 2022