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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Nothing Makes Faith Right More Than a Right Heart

Jousting with the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4 NIV) Earlier in verse 2, having seen the faith of a paralysed man’s friends, Jesus commends this man whom He heals to “take heart…”
One word, two contexts.
In the former, the heart is the source of pride, malice, envy, whereas in the latter, the heart is to be a source for courage. Jesus sees the wretched heart (the seat of the emotions) beating within the Pharisees, just as He sees the heart (the courage) the paralytic man would need to live healed and whole.
A heart is something we nurture. Malice or courage?
The heart is something that connects us to faith, biblically, from Genesis onwards. The faith of Abraham was the sole basis for his right relationship with God. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else matters, ever. Nothing we can add to faith improves faith, for faith is about the heart.
A godly heart is what underpins faith.
Faith is founded on a loving heart open to hope.
If our hearts are rotten through, and they tend to be, if we’re honest about the way we think and feel, we have only one recourse to God — to surrender our heart before Him.
The biblical paradox is this: where we think our hearts are good, we’re on the verge of being a Pharisee, but where we suspect our heart carries evil, God makes us aware, and as we repent, we surrender and in that He changes our heart. And to repent takes courage: heart. The Pharisee’s heart cannot see beyond their own ‘virtue’, but a godly person trusts in the virtue of God, and are led in that way, away from their folly.
One virtue is founded on self-reliance;
the other virtue is built on God-reliance.
One requires no faith at all,
whereas God-reliance requires faith.
Faith is the process of surrendering our heart to God. Only by giving our heart to God are we able to please Him. Nothing else that we do ever counts.
Here is the key test of the heart: how we treat all others. If anyone would be excluded, favoured, segregated, privileged then we have a heart problem.
Big hearts. Jesus wants big, cross-shaped hearts. Hearts that reject temptations to envy, malice and pride. Hearts that beat to the rhythm of love through acts of faith. Hearts that leap otherwise at the opportunity to love through inclusion, acceptance, kindness and compassion.
It takes courage to live by faith; the courage of taking heart. A right heart makes faith right.

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