Summary: Keeping your heart in the right place. Leading a comfortable lifestyle is not the only thing we should be seeking in life. We have a responsibility to our fellow men and women as well as God.
Keeping Your Heart in the Right Place
Manufacturers have regularly recalled such items as automobiles, television sets and, of course, more recently, Chinese built children’s toys. If defective, these items can be very dangerous. In 1972, General Electric issued what may be the ultimate recall: 487 heart pacemakers, almost all of them already in the chests of patients.
The defect was not in G.E.’s basic design, but in one of the pacemaker’s parts. A subcontractor for one of the unit’s circuits changed the cement used in its manufacture, unwittingly substituted one that could transmit electric current. This supplied more power from the built-in battery than was needed and affected the governor of the mechanism.
The error was expensive to the manufacturer and inconvenient to many patients. Replacement involves a 15-minute operation and several days of observation in a hospital. (Time Magazine, April 24, 1972, “The Ultimate Recall”)
The heart is not something we can do without. It’s a necessary part of daily living. Without it, we can’t survive. But the heart that beats blood in our chest is not the only kind of heart we can have.
We can have a heart of caring or a heart of selfishness, a heart of compassion or a heart of self-centered concerns. Today, we’re going to look at actions and attitudes that determine our purpose and leads how we do things. We’re going to take a look at how good our heart is.
The Life and Heart of Israel
In the Old Testament lesson read a moment ago, the prophet Amos described an Israel that had hardened their heart. They were focused on the good things in life, but only for themselves.
During this time, the kingdom of Israel was ruled by the King Jeroboam the second and experienced great prosperity. Since the days of Solomon, they had never been more powerful or influence in the world. They had peace of mind through the strength of their military forces. They had reached new power through their political connections.
They lived comfortable lives with the finest furnishings. They had plenty to eat and drink. In fact, it wasn’t enough just to have a glass of wine, they had to supersize it. They lived the high-life with no cares in the world; living in the lap of luxury in full assurance and security.
Life was good for the Israelites. But, their comfortable life style led them away from God. Amos described an Israel that enjoyed the best things in life and pursued even greater things. They used the backs of their fellow Israelites to build up wealth and were unconcerned with the plight of others. Instead, the Israelites became more concerned with material possessions rather than the will of God. They became indifferent to God, His law and his people. (Charles Salmon, “The Enemy Within: Indifference”)
Instead, they became comfortable with the sin in their lives, comfortable with the lost world around them, comfortable with the things that should break their hearts, comfortable with the things that should motivate people to work for the Lord. Instead, they ignored the plight of others and fell more and more into the decadence of desire. (Jim Drake, “All You Can Ease Buffet”)
Amos tried to shake his people free from their attitude of apathy by proclaiming the destruction that lay ahead. The prophet preached doom and gloom for only one reason; he want to spur people to repentance. Amos tried as hard as he could to get Israel to change, but their hearts remained cold. Their hearts were pulled away from God’s will and towards their own desires.
The Life and Heart of Western Society
Much of what Israel was doing is very similar to what we see in our society today. It’s self-centered in many respects and focused on the materialistic desires and the enjoyment of excess. Society shows us examples of selfish and self-centered living, putting the pleasures of self ahead of others regardless of who is hurt, as well as the application of standards by using an “if it feels good, do it” attitude.
Through peer pressure, the successes of advertising and the untold number of images placed all around us, many are trying to pull our hearts in directions that don’t match what God wants us to do.
It’s obvious that society doesn’t follow the “treat others as we would like to be treated” ideal. It’s more of a “dog-eat-dog world” out there. There has always been problems with society’s standards following the whims of sinful men instead of the absolute truth of God. This is nothing new. During Amos time, Israel felt they were indestructible; they became more concerned with building their own self esteem instead of taking care of the flock of Joseph.
Then, as well as now, the world seeks outward prosperity while allowing inward decay. It exploits the helpless and dwells on self-indulgence. Although the world has changed significantly, the problems are still predominantly the same.