Summary: Let us look beyond the pleasantry of Christmas day this morning. Christmas will soon be over; and, for many they will go back to hearts filled with bitterness, hatred and burden. You see the hearts of humanity may appear to be EMPTY from post-Christmas
Post-Christmas Battle for Your Heart
David Tack – December 22, 2011
INTRO: Christmas is a wonderful time of year. It promotes joy and goodwill to humanity and most people purposely spread the spirit of peace, love and toleration! Christmas day arrives and it is a time of great communion, centering on family, friends and hopefully the birth of Christ.
THEN, Christmas is gone and past, the joy, the love, the friendly spirit seemingly goes away from the hearts and souls of many; and, it’s back to another year of hardships, difficulties and trials. Let us look beyond the pleasantry of Christmas day this morning. Christmas will soon be over; and, for many they will go back to hearts filled with bitterness, hatred and burden. You see the hearts of humanity may appear to be EMPTY from post-Christmas past; but, are they really empty? Perhaps, they are bursting at the seams with unwanted attitudes and mindsets (After-all, this is the most difficult obstacle for humanity to overcome: the inner workings of the heart). We find in Matthew 15:8: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Though the Bible has an abundant amount of good to say about the heart of man, I want to look at the dark side of the heart of mankind today. Let’s look at just 3 of the many negative vices utilized by our enemy to darken the heart of many today!
Note: Keep in mind that the word “heart” is often used in the Bible as a person’s center (or seat) of being. Then, we will turn to God’s blessed Bread of Life in pursuit of spiritual food for such emptiness and undesirable mindsets of the heart. Let’s begin our journey! Prepare your heart today!
THE SPIRIT OF A BITTER HEART
Author Jerry Sutton defines bitterness as, ‘internalized anger.’ I cite the old adage, ‘Bitterness does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to anyone upon which it is poured.” Ref: Sutton, Jerry. A Primer on Biblical Preaching. Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2011.130. EX: Expression=Freedom VICE Retention=Mental/ Physical Sickness
“Eadie [A Scottish Theologian 1810-1876] says that Pikria [bitterness] is ‘a figurative term denoting that fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual [constant] animosity—that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things—that makes him sour, crabbed, and repulsive in his general demeanor—that brings a scowl over his face, and infuses venom into the words of his tongue (p. 357).” Ref: Earle, Ralph. Word Meanings in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Hendrickson, 1998. 318.
Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath (boiling agitation of the feelings), and anger (abiding habit of the mind), and clamour (fierce outcries), and evil speaking (slandering), be put away from you, with all malice (bad-heartedness):”
The Secret: How to overcome this negative heart- tude today: We must go back to Eph 4:22 for the answer: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (23) And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (24) And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Romans 6:4: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
THE SPIRIT OF A HATEFUL HEART
I like these simple sensibility of this quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” Ref: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Matthew 5:44: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”;
We find in Matthew Chapters 5-7, where Jesus preaches His Sermon on the Mount. More specifically in Matthew 5:1-48, Jesus is giving a blueprint of true righteousness. In our text (vs. 44) is the negative aspect of inward sin (of the heart). Remember to hate in the heart is to kill one inwardly!
Why should we love our enemies?
Because God does! (vs. 45) the Father makes the sun “to rise on the evil and on the good” and the rain to fall upon the “just and on the unjust.”
We find in Romans 5:10 that we were once the enemies of God: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”
Because it is what makes us different (Christlike): Matthew 5:46-47, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? (47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?