The Path: Your Heart Matters
Lent 2020: The Path • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 16:49
0 ratings· 161 views
Let us pray…as we gather on this second Sunday in Lent, o God, we ask that the Spirit would intercede for us as we continue to journey that paths that you have laid out before us. Open our ears, our eyes, and most importantly, out hearts as we reflect on the words you have for us this day.
As we begin on this second Sunday in Lent, we are going to be spending some time talking about how our hearts help to determine our paths in life. Our hearts are the center of our chest and the center of everything we do, and maybe that was God’s intention when we were created. Our hearts play an important role in our health and our whole well-being. It is for this very reason that today, in the sermon series on the Proverbs, that we are looking at what Solomon had to say about our hearts…
Heart Decisions…and hard decisions
Heart Decisions…and hard decisions
How many times in your when you have been faced with a major decision and looking for advice, have you heard someone say to you, “What does your heart tell you?” Right, it is something we have all told someone and it is probably something that many, if not all, of us have heard multiple times in our lives. I can remember very distinctly, a time when my mom said this to me, and it was right before I made the final decision to enter seminary. That decision and conversation changed my life and the path that I was on. But it was more than my heart that made the decision and the reason is because sometimes our hearts lead us in the wrong direction. In my case, it was the right thing to do, to listen to my heart. But there have been just as many, if not more times, that my heart has led me to make decisions that were really not in my best interest to follow. I know that sounds contradictory to some but it really does matter to listen to our hearts, as long as we are also listening to make sure that it is the Spirit that is speaking into them and not just what we want to be happy.
You see, there is a very distinct difference between having the peace of knowing that you are following your heart because the Spirit has led you to that point versus listening to you heart only to get what will make you happy for a moment. I believe that God desires for us to make decisions that will lead to long-term satisfaction, not necessarily pure joy, but satisfaction rather than what will make us happy for a moment in time. Solomon does a pretty good job of fleshing this out for us throughout the Proverbs but there are three places in the Proverb before us this morning that Solomon references the heart…let’s take a look at the first one...
My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
So, that seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, here’s the thing I want us to hear very clearly in this piece…If you do this, you will live many years and life will be satisfying. The thing that is most interesting about this phrase is that if we follow God, listen for God’s instructions, and keep them in our hearts, we will be satisfied. Satisfied…what a subjective word that is. Think about it for a moment…what does it mean to be satisfied?
Does it mean to have everything your heart desires? No, probably not because there are things that we deeply desire that are not good for us, just look at my midsection sometime…I wear a device that proves that eating whatever you want, whenever you want just is not that good for your long-term health. Sure, it might make you feel good for a moment but in the long run, it might make you sick, too. So what about physical things? Do they satisfy us in the long-term? Sure, there are some that might but do they all? No, probably not. I want us to take a look at the word translated as satisfying for a moment...
The word shown here is the Hebrew word Shalom…now, I know we have talked about this previously but the word that we typically use in English to represent Shalom is peace. However, in this translation, we are using the word satisfying. In my mind, there is a direct correlation between satisfying and peace. When we think about what satisfies us, we often think of things that bring us peace, right? I mean, two of my spiritual practices lately has been finding time to work on my cross-stitch project or to read Stephen King novels. Not what some might consider a spiritual practice, but it is when I am doing these things that I am most at rest and peace .
If we were to open another English translation of the Bible, we might find words like prosperity (a really different word) or abundant welfare (again a really different interpretation of peace). Regardless as to how this word is translated from the original Biblical Hebrew, the original remains the same. Now, I am not saying that those who put these translations together are wrong because in the grand scheme of things, context of the whole makes a huge difference. My point in bringing this up is that when we consider what satisfies us, we also need to consider what brings us peace and not just in the moment but for the long-term. Remember, this is Solomon speaking about how our hearts, guided by the Spirit, will help direct us on the paths that we must take. Still with me here?
So the first place Solomon mentioned our hearts was in regard to taking God’s desires for us and placing them deep within our hearts. Here is the second place I want us to consider this morning...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Let me stop for just a second and ask you two questions and I want you to ponder them for just a moment…what does it take to wholeheartedly trust someone? And second, when we think of trusting God, what does it involve?
For Solomon, it was about being open to God’s wisdom. Remember, Solomon was considered one of the wisest men of his time. And just trust me here that you have to read the stories of his life to understand what I am about to say…he was wise because he sought out God for nearly every major, if not every major decision, he needed to make. When we think about our most trusted friend, the one we turn to for advice or the first person we think of to turn to for advice, the reason we do so is because we trust that they will reveal the truth to us, right? It is this kind of trust that we need to place in our hearts when it comes to God’s instructions for us. It is hard though to place that amount of trust…we are afraid that the truth of what we are asking may not be what we want to be happy. And again, we are back to the idea of short-term vs. long-term happiness here. Our understanding is flawed because we are flawed but God’s will (as we are told all throughout scripture) is perfect. But we don’t often want the answers that God may provide. Listen, I get it, I know it, I have experienced quite a bit of this in the recent past. I have not always liked the answers I got but if we trust that what God gives us is what we need to do, in the long-term, our hearts will be satisfied.
The last place that we are going to discover where Solomon speaks of the heart is here...
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
I know they are out of order from what is recorded in scripture but trust me, there is a reason I took them out of order…If we look at this piece for a moment, Solomon is telling us that when we are loyal and kind, our reputation will be that of someone who can be trusted. Our lives and the paths we take are going to be seen by everyone we know and even some we do not know. Think in terms of our children when they are small…they are like sponges. Everything we say and do is seen and heard, whether we want it to be or not. Some children are great filters for us because of this very fact.
If we want others to trust us, don’t we do things that show loyalty? If we want others to know us as a good person, don’t we show them kindness? This is what God desires from us and for us. In my mind, the only way to have a truly satisfying life is to be these two things towards others, no matter how hard it might be to do. If we do these two very simple things, people will know they can trust us and will know that they can count on us. If these two things are written on our hearts, then there is little opportunity for our hearts to mislead us either.
Summing it up...
Summing it up...
There are three things I want for us to get from today.
God is really interested in what is in our hearts (Solomon tells us to store God’s commands in our hearts)
God desires for us to trust that what God tells us is the truth and what is in our best interests (trust with all our hearts)
God desires for us to know God and keep God within our hearts always (write loyalty and kindness within our hearts)
Our paths are just that, ours. However, we also need to be aware that what we say and do is seen by others. As I have said over the last two sermons, we can have intelligence without a lot of wisdom and a lot of wisdom without intelligence but if we really want to be the kind of heart people we all desire to be, we need to be using our wisdom, intelligence, and a heart centered on God to make our paths straight. It is doing these things that others will come to know, trust, and want to follow us into the future…our hearts matter just as much as our wisdom and intelligence, and maybe even a little bit more than the two combined, Amen.