What does God want with my heart? And why all of it?
By Sarah Dixon Young
Why does God want my heart? It was a simple question from a young child in Sunday School.
But it stumped me. I had to hunt for the answer.
The Greatest Commandment begins with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and it is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. But why does the Lord desire our hearts?
When Adam was made in God’s image, there were three things that His image included which made man distinct from everything else God created: a will, a mind and emotions.
God gave Adam a mind so that Adam might know God.
In Sunday School, I now explain to the children, “Does your dog know your favorite color?”
They giggle. Of course not!
Dogs have a brain, but they lack a mind.
Even if you tell your dog your favorite color, he can’t really know it because he doesn’t have a mind.
God also gave Adam a will so that Adam might choose God.
I continue my dog analogy: “Does your dog play chess?” More giggles.
No one’s dog plays chess.
A dog does not have a will to make choices, but man, made in God’s image, certainly does.
Finally, God gave Adam emotions so that Adam might love God.
Your dog wags his tail when you give him a piece of bacon, but he doesn’t love you. He can’t.
Only people, made in God’s image, have the capacity for a self-sacrificing kind of love.
All three of these evidences of God’s image are found centrally located in the heart, the command center within us that houses our mind, our will and our emotions.
It’s also the heart that is the target of the enemy.
If he can deceive us and corrupt the command center, he can manipulate our mind, our will, and our emotions and steer us away from the Lord who loves us and calls us to give our hearts to Him.
That’s why the Psalmist prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” and “Unite my heart to fear Your name!”
He knew that the heart, the command center, rightfully belongs to the Lord who bestowed His image on us, but we have betrayed the Lord, giving control to a wicked enemy.
Worse, we have often deceived ourselves into thinking we hold control over our own heart, refusing to turn it over to the One who made it.
The Lord wants our hearts to keep us safe and to help us do what we were made to do: love and worship Him.
Jesus stood up in a crowd and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now, this He said about the Spirit.”
When we surrender our hearts — mind, will, emotions — to the Lord, He makes it His dwelling, putting His Spirit there to abide and produce His fruit through us.
Why does He want your heart? Because He loves you and wants to help you love Him in return.
Editor’s Note — Sarah Dixon Young’s “All My Heart” blog was first published at sarahdixonyoung.com and is reprinted with permission.
Surest vaccine: unity in body of Christ
By Shawn Parker
Mississippi Baptist Convention Board
I remember preaching in a church many years ago called Harmony Baptist that had split off from another church in the community (I’m not kidding, though I am changing the name to protect the guilty).
Unfortunately, the name didn’t seem to fit the circumstances and the community knew it. This one thing I know about the enemy: he loves to infect the church with the virus of division. The surest method to counter this spiritual cancer is unity.
In Ephesians 4:15, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesians to “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.” This statement offers succinct insight into the nature of unity in the body of Christ.
First, we’re reminded that the foundation of our unity is nothing less than our Lord Himself. While we might be tempted to believe that buildings or budgets unite churches, the truth is we are bound together by our common connection to Christ.
Paul also challenged the Ephesians to grow up. People who quit growing in Christ are usually those who become distracted by the things of this world that create conflict. In addition, when a church quits growing spiritually, they become vulnerable to the disruptive work of the devil.
One sure antidote to brewing antagonism is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Whether you are a church leader or member, I hope you’ll do all you can to build peace and fellowship in the body of Christ. It will do your soul good; it might be the medicine someone else needs; and it will please our Lord.
Letter to the editor
Thank you for printing Mark MacDonald’s article in the March 3 issue of The Baptist Paper, “Baptist church perception and marketing: 3 cautions to consider.” These are wonderful reminders for all churches to prayerfully consider.
I regularly encounter the “Drop ‘Baptist’ from the church name” discussions which are usually tied to the organization (the local church). In the context of this discussion, MacDonald speaks specifically to marketing the organization, the local church.
As you consider the “3 cautions” it is important for us to remember that individuals ARE the local church. As members of the local church, Christ followers are walking, talking, texting and social-media-posting marketing representatives for not only our Savior and Lord, Jesus, but also for His Bride, the local church.
As we prayerfully consider the community’s perception of our local church, I encourage each member to pray Psalm 139:23–24 and glorify God as representatives of Jesus and the local church.
“‘All we can do is pray’ is an oft repeated line, but we need to realize ‘the most important thing we can do is pray.’”
Georgia author Brenda Graham who blogs at brendaknightgraham.com
“There are a lot of churches we were involved in planting that if Putin takes over, those churches will be severely limited. The freedom they have will be curtailed. … That’s discouraging. You see the progress and things that have happened, and with Russia, whatever falls behind that red line, the circumstances will change,” said Mike Ray, former IMB missionary to Ukraine and director of missions mobilization at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.
“The heart cannot love what the head does not know. If we want to feel deeply about God, we must think deeply about God.”
Bible study author, speaker
“The world offers conformity. It wants everyone to be the same. Christ offers transformation. Unity as a Christian doesn’t mean we are all the same, doesn’t mean uniformity, but it means we are living out the best version of ourselves that God has intended for us for His glory. … We understand from Scripture that the world is an evil place. … But God has made us for this moment … to share the good news of the gospel with people who are hurting, who are searching.
“The Bible has the answers for the world. … God in Jesus is rescuing the world and rescuing us. … This is the story the world needs to hear. … God has called us here today to live in this moment and I think we should embrace it,” said Dan Darling, director of Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Seminary, during a TAB Media Special Report on engaging others within today’s culture.
“We believe that men need to be encouraged to be men of God. We believe that when you teach husbands, fathers and sons to walk in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ, they become the men God created and ordained them to be. They become more loving husbands. They become more attentive fathers,” said Kyle Woodfin, a Georgia Baptist preacher, who leads Legacy Outdoor Ministries.
“It feels very personal to us. These are not strangers who live on the other side of the world. They are very much a part of our church family. While we may not know all their names or all their faces, these are our brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Jeff Jackson, pastor of First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Georgia, of the current crisis in Ukraine.
“As the church, as we walk in faith and talk about … mental health … just how much stronger can we be together if we link arms and recognize we’re not in this alone?”
Christian communicator, author
From the Twitterverse
Guard your heart! The world can make it cynical, bitter, and hard. The love of God keeps it tender and joyful.
The world is unraveling, and as it does, the way of Jesus will become more beautiful and compelling. Let’s model humility, integrity and love, and open arms of mercy and grace to those looking for hope and meaning in the chaos.
Most, if not all, of the cultural narratives we hear (esp. on social media) are far more complex than we are told. Acknowledging complexity & being nuanced isn’t a sign of weakness or compromise, it is simply choosing to live in reality instead of the tribal thinking of our day.
Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls (Heb. 6:18b–19).
God creates us to do what He instructs us to do. This is one reason why worship and obedience are so satisfying.
Dear pastor on Twitter, thinking about Matthew 7:2, what if the tactics, standards of evidence and burden of proof that you employ on this platform were to be used by your congregation the next time they had a difference of opinion with you?
While reading the Psalms, I’m struck by how often God is questioned. Why He’s allowing this. Why He’s forsaken that. Suffering makes you curious and to me, it seems, being inquisitive is in fact a healthy part of prayer. Even Jesus, in His dying hour, asked God a question.
In my opinion, the biggest hindrance to the local church in the south is indifference.