PURE IN HEART
Fully devoted to Loving God
with every part of our lives.
The Fragmented Heart
Impurity in our hearts can be detected by our different affections (things we like and desire). Since the heart produces these affections, we know our hearts are affected when we have desires other than pleasing our Lord.
We will return to the art of detecting these other desires later. For now, let us use one illustration that can help us understand what is going on in our hearts. I will be using the phrase 'fragmented heart' to describe what happens when we have more than one chief desire. (1) The term 'fragment' comes from the breaking apart of one whole heart into pieces.
If our heart is divided from a pure affection to please God, then our hearts are fragmented. Each fragment of the heart is reserved by us for different purposes. We have dedicated different parts of our affections to pursue those things we like, desire and choose.
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Because our hearts are hidden away deep in the recesses of our heart, we have a difficult time analyzing our hearts for weaknesses. However, we can detect our greatest affections. They show themselves through our activities and choices in daily life. These affections reveal our hearts' devotion and support for those particular areas of our lives.
In the illustration to our left, we have three main affections in our life. The center one is the chief controlling area of the Christian. This is the new heart that is responsive to the Lord and His Spirit. The other two areas are differently focused as seen in the different direction of the arrows. This heart is fragmented. We would expect to find in his life that he is pursuing three main goals.
Lukewarmness comes from having many smaller parts which choke out real affection for the Lord.
Let us develop this example a bit further to better illustrate how this works. When we love something, it means we place it as a priority over other things. Love for cars means that because one loves cars, he gives a lot of time, talk and money to cars. Love for family means that he gives a lot of time, talk and money to family. Love for God means that he gives a lot of time, talk and money to God and His concerns.
God has told us that our love for God must take priority in our lives (Mark 12:30), "AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH." (Mark 12:30). In the example to the right, we will need to eliminate our love for cars and family so to gain a pure love for God.
We often are blind or deaf to our different loves because down deep in our hearts we know God is not pleased with these other affections. We don't want to admit their existence because we don't want God to take them away! More than often we will distract people and ourselves by focusing on the problems of others who have a like sin. However, even if we have read this far, we will still fight Jesus' command by protecting our right to these other loves. We need to clarify what is and is not meant by these loves and affections.
Jesus is asking that we do not fragment our heart's affection in different directions but to give Him our whole heart. This is emphasized by the alls:
- all your heart
- all your soul
- all your mind, and
- all your strength."
This means that we can not put any other objects, in this supreme place.
- Negatively, this means that we cannot do anything that would cause us not to follow all of His commands.
- Positively it means, that we take all the other responsibilities, gifts and interests we have to love God.
No matter how much we love our families or cars, we must place them second to our love for God. Anytime, we see that we put our desires above what God has, then we are committing spiritual adultery. Let me give you two examples.
|Can we be a car hobbyist?
Cars take up a lot of time, money and room. Have you held back from what God wants you to do? Let's take two tests?
The Willing Test
If Christ speaks to your heart to give up those cars, are you ready to at a moment's notice to give them up? We should not collect anything if we sense any unwillingness to not immediately give it up if Christ asks us.
The Scriptural Test
Do our activities contradict what the scriptures actually teach? We first find a relevant passage and see if we have gone out of our way to obey it.
"But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17)
By what concrete steps have you shown a great love for your poor and persecuted brothers and sisters? Some of our brothers and sisters around the world are in need of money to live and would greatly benefit some small capital to start a family business. (2)
|Can we be family focused?
Care for the family is seen as a great need today. Many would strongly argue that loving the family is loving God. In one sense, it is. However, we need to be clear as to what we mean.
Clearly the Lord wants all our chief affections. How then does this work out for our family whom we are commanded to greatly love and care for? We are saying that your allegiance to God must be stronger than that to your family. Obedience to God must not be threatened because of your affection for your wife and children.
Examples of Violations
- Allow your children to watch unclean movies.
- Use birth control to 'guarantee' more for your family.
- Lie on child's scholarship form.
- Indulge children rather than consistent discipline.
If we prefer something over God's wishes for our families, our worship is impure; our hearts are fragmented. We need to repent from these areas of disobedience and live according to His ways. We will definitely need more faith. Fortunately, we can ask Him for more faith (see James).
The obvious question is how do we fit those things that are good in our life. Surely it is not wrong to be a good father. No. It isn't. If you notice, I was highlighting points of a poor father.
This is where the second summary command comes into play. All our chief affections must be for the Lord. He wants us all. This will mean that we are to fully obey Him without respect to what or who we are dealing with. No husband only wants part of his wife's affection. "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:31).
Notice that the word love is again used here but in second place. This love for our neighbors is not a competing love. For example, the wife is not to sin for the sake of her husband even though she lives in a marriage covenant. She has an higher obligation, a greater covenant. It is great to watch your child play baseball, but not on Sunday during worship service time or the church's prayer meeting!
Our love for our neighbors must be the way God has instructed us. There is no room to love self. This second commandment gives us direction to pass on God's love. This should give us a new sense of priority.
By opening up our lives to this examining process, we cooperate with God rather than struggle with Him. Furthermore, we will less likely take offense because we will understand why He is 'being so rough' with us. In fact, He is like a surgeon that is cutting away cancerous parts of our heart.
A pure heart means that we love God with all that we have. His commands remain the highest priority in our lives. No desire will cause me to disobey Him.
When we have this kind of pure heart, we will see that we have much more energy. We will have less and less inner tension. Things will become clearer. The flesh will not seem so strong.
The fragmented heart is only an illustration to help us link our desires and choices with our heart affection. If you have the desire, then you have the desires seeded in your heart. A more biblical term is hardened which we will now take a look at.
Hope you will take a few minutes to work with God on a spiritual heartcheck! =>
(1) Fragmented heart is not a biblical term. We use it merely to help us build up our detective skills on tracing back heart desires from our affections. More is explained on the use of this phrase and hardening in the next page.
(2) Let me know if you are interested in knowing more about such needs. I can give you information.