Summary: What Scripture teaches about your heart
COMMITMENT OF THE HEART
Have you ever had your heart broken? Do you know of someone who it is said ‘they died of a broken heart?’ Our hearts are very important to us. According to medical statistics ‘heart disease’ is the biggest killer in Northern Ireland. Physically we cannot live without our hearts. Emotionally our hearts are important and according to the answer Jesus gave to the ‘teachers’ question in Mark 12 are hearts are important, nay vital, in our commitment to God our Father. So let us look a little more closely at this passage and see what we can learn about commitment from it.
Jesus is at the centre of a series of disputes within the Temple precincts. This is one of many questions that he had faced. One of the teachers of the Law steps forward and asks a question: ‘What is the greatest of all the commandments?’ You see the rabbis had added up all the Laws and come to the conclusion that God had given the people 613 commandments to obey. His question is ‘which of these 613 is the most important?’ In his reply Jesus joins two commandments together. The first one is found in Deuteronomy 6.4-5 – the Shema, which every Hebrew child was taught from earliest childhood. This is an uncontroversial reply. However Jesus adds a second commandment to this from Leviticus 19.18 and concludes ‘there is no greater commandment than these.’
I want you to note that in his reply Jesus uses the word ‘all’ of the heart, the mind, the soul and the strength. He is emphatic that love of God is to be total. Love of God is to encompass every aspect, every power, absolutely everything there is of us. ‘All’ leaves nothing out. It is not to be part of your heart, or part of your soul, mind and strength – No! it is to be ‘all.’ He then follows this with the practical outworking of loving God – love for your neighbour. It is interesting that in answer to the question of who is my neighbour Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan – and I do not need to teach you on that. You see for Christ Jesus the two commandments are complimentary. Love of God must be seen and shown in love of your neighbour. Love for your neighbour is perfected in love for God.
The teacher of the Law agrees with Jesus’ reply and then adds that these two commandments are more important than ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ Jesus tells him he is ‘not far from the kingdom of God.’ He is not in but he is close. I think that is telling of this man. He was not far from the kingdom of God and yet he was not within the kingdom of God. I find that amazing that you can be so close and yet remain outside the kingdom of God. How come? I think the answer is given in Jesus’ answer to the first question. ‘Love God with all your heart etc.’ Let me expand on that for a few moments.
I want to concentrate this morning on your heart and on your heart alone. I don’t know if you have ever seen the film The Matrix. In the film Neo is given a choice by Morpheus. The choice is between a blue pill and a red pill. If Neo chooses the blue pill he will wake up in his bed and believe everything of the Matrix, everything you want to believe. Morpheus tells him if he chooses the red pill then ‘you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.’ Neo chooses the red pill. Lucy steps through the wardrobe into Narnia. Aladdin rubs the lamp. Elisha prays that the eyes of his servant would be opened. Peter, James and John follow Jesus up the Mount of Transfiguration. And all of them discover that there is far more going on than meets the eye. Each time the question is ‘Do you want to see?’ And that is exactly what Jesus is asking here of this man when he tells him to love God with all his heart. Why start with the heart?
Reality is where the Heart Lives
You see the heart is where we live in reality. Your heart knows and wrestles with realities. The mind receives and processes information. The mind lives on facts. The heart does more than display emotions. Your heart can be wounded, grieved, pierced, broken but it also can be glad and cheerful. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the pure in heart…’ In Luke 8.15 the seed which falls on good ground falls on a noble and good heart. You see the mind, though it is important, deals with abstractions – for example 2+2=4. But the heart, the heart well it deals with the realities of living, dying, loving, hating and it concerns itself with commitment. Those who live by the mind only are detached from real life. Those who live by the mind only seem not to be touched by the world around them. We say of them they are ‘cold people’. Your heart is something else though. It is much more than your emotions. Emotions are the voice of the heart – they are not the heart but its voice. They express deeper movements of the heart – for example we weep at death. Each of us experience and respond to life with the heart. Each of us experience and respond to God primarily with our heart and that is why Christ begins with the statement we are to ‘love God with all our heart.’