Posts Tagged ‘character’

The Heart of the Matter

April 18, 2016

I teach philosophy courses at a community college.  One of the courses that I teach is a course on ethics.  Ethical theory can have different areas of focus.  They can focus on the action.  Some people think that Christianity has this focus.  Do not kill.  Do not steal.  Do not commit adultery, and so forth.  Another focus of ethical theory is the consequences.  “The end justifies the means”  is an example of this type of thinking.  This approach is much harder to reconcile with Christian thought, although it is quite popular in contemporary society.   A third focus is to focus on the individual;  their thoughts, motives and character.

Which approach does God favor?  I do not think that I want to make a definite conclusion to this question.  I would not want to wrongly represent God, but I will make a suggestion and offer some support.

I. God Sees the Heart:  I Samuel 16:6-7

Before we read these verses we should know the background.  Samuel was a prophet who served as the last judge over all Israel.  When he was old the people asked for him to appoint a king.  God directed Samuel to anoint Saul king of Israel.  Saul proved himself to be unfaithful by not being obedient to the commands of God.  God decided to remove him from being king and told Samuel to anoint a new person to be king.

So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I believe that God is most concerned with what is in our hearts.  We can exercise self control and act in the right way, at least temporarily, if we have sufficient motivation.  However, God is not fooled by actions that are not heartfelt. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor.  That is first and foremost, an attitude of the heart .

II.  Out of the Heart:  Luke 6:43-45

 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

We should seek to be filled with the things of God.  We are spiritual beings in a physical body.  We need to feed the body to meet the physical needs.  We need to feed our spirit to meet our spiritual needs.  We should be spending time in prayer, in the Word, and in fellowship with other believers so that our spirit is well fed and full.  Then we will be able to bring forth good things from our hearts.

III.  No Control:  James 3:8-12

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

Some people try to exercise self control and simply do and say the right thing from their own strength.  This will work.  Some of the time.

We cannot always be good in what we say and do in our own strength.  In our flesh we will fall short.  By the Spirit we can be victorious.

IV.  Seasoning:  Colossians 4:6*

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Our words can have an impact.  They can build up or they can tear down.  Let us seek to be people whose words are filled with grace.  The right words, in the right tone, at the right time can be used by God to bring life,hope and peace.

V.  What are You?  Matthew 5:13-16

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We are called to be both salt and light.  I realize that I started this message by talking about the heart and then I moved on to our words and our deeds.  I believe that is how God works in our lives as well.  He starts in our hearts.  When we turn to Him in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus He sends His Spirit into our hearts giving us a new life.  This new life is then demonstrated through our lives, through our attitudes, words and deeds.  If we are Christians, then Christ dwells in our hearts, if Christ is in our hearts He should show forth in our lives.

If we are experiencing difficulties, we should not focus on the external symptoms, but on the internal relationship.  Draw close to God and our lives will bear the fruit of righteousness.

These are the sermon notes from 4/17/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for this week. 

 

 

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