Summary: God puts our hearts at rest through HIs commands to love and believe.
May 6, 2012 1 John 3:18-24
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Be Fully Alive in the Deadest Sense of the Word
Dear children in Christ,
Jeremiah wrote in 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”
The heart is deceptive, Jeremiah says. It can trick you. You can feel something is so right, but it can be so very wrong. Sometimes sin can feel really right, but your brain will be screaming at you, “This is really wrong!” You can’t trust your heart because it can be corrupted by your passion.
That doesn’t mean that the heart doesn’t matter. God looks to the heart for evidence as to why you are doing what you are doing. Imagine if you gave your mother a bouquet of flowers on Mother’s Day and you said, “Here’s some flowers. I had to buy them because Hallmark has declared this to be Mother’s Day and I know you’d be mad at me if I didn’t get them for you.” That’s not a “heart-felt” gift. It’s fake. God wants us to do what we do because it comes from our heart, not just our mind and neither as an emotionless and robotic action.
God examines our hearts, and he wants us to do so as well. Some people are very attuned to their hearts while others are not. It’s impossible to know, but on the surface it makes me wonder how many really struggle with themselves at night or by themselves? God said that the love of most would grow cold near the end times. It appears to me that in a general way people are becoming more and more calloused and less introspective to how they are speaking and acting in our society. Do you ever stay up at night with feelings of guilt over something you said or didn’t say; did or didn’t do? Do you ever worry about what kind of attitude you have – whether you are angering God or not?
Do you expect that God should just accept you as you are? Do you demand Him to do so and think that anything more is not fair? Do you ever fear that God might punish you for something you did? I just don’t sense this within American Christians, and it scares me that we are taking the grace of God for granted; that we have a sense of entitlement with God; that He owes it to us to be gracious and kind to us. It never crosses our minds that we might actually make God angry with some of our behavior; even with our lackadaisical attitudes.
Read through the Psalms of David and you will find a person who was very introspective; who was very conscious and concerned about what God thought of him. David was very strong before men and a mighty warrior, before God He was not. His Psalms reflect the spirit of a person who struggled on the inside with his action and his inaction, his sin and his guilt. God didn’t disrespect David for this. He didn’t think David was a sissy or a girly-man for being so emotional before Him. He said David was a man after his own heart. God liked that about David.
In this letter from John, he speaks to people whom he assumes have troubled hearts and agitated consciences. This is supposed to be what happens when the Holy Spirit shines a light in there. You start realizing the sins that you have, and it naturally agitates you. Instead of bringing peace, He brings guilt. It bothers you when you find yourself with feelings of anger and impatience, when you shouldn’t. It makes you feel bad when an emotion of passion comes raging in towards a person that you have no business feeling that way with. It embarrasses you that you are so afraid of what other people think of you. So you feel guilty. You wonder to yourself, “Why am I so afraid of what people think of me? Why do I have such anger and impatience within me? Why do I doubt God’s love and power so much? Am I even Christian? God have mercy on me!” That’s what David went through. That’s the way John assumes Christians feel within them selves. He assumes our hearts will be restless. Luther referred to this as “angst” – a troubled soul within him. Angst is a part of Christianity. No angst = no Christian.