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We cannot love our neighbor as ourselves if our hearts are not transformed. Many of our wrong actions emanate from our hearts. We profess to be followers of Christ but our actions in no way resemble what Christ will do. We rather chart our own courses, even when these courses are completely different from what the Bible enjoins us to do. Quite a number of us are nice on the outside but have not allowed the Word of God to sink into our hearts. Yes, God desires that we be nice, but He wants our hearts to be involved. God wants our whole heart and not just our outer actions. He doesn’t want our vain actions. He does not want us to be just doers of good deeds or just to be good people, He wants our hearts. Our love for God and our neighbors cannot be merely with words, but it must lie in our hearts, which will, in turn, influence every aspect of our lives.
The reason many of us who claim to be Christians can say and do the things we do, and for that matter neglect to say and do, the things we do not do is because of the state of our hearts. I have often wondered why our handling of our children, marriages, conflicts, finances, and difficulties in life is in no way different from that of our non-Christian counterparts. I have wondered endlessly why the only way we differentiate ourselves from non-Christians is because we attend church services a few times a week. We proclaim Christ but we have not allowed Christ to penetrate our hearts.
We can tell a lot about a person if we were to look into their hearts. The obvious problem is that no matter how we try we cannot really see into another person’s heart. We cannot know what you are thinking; we cannot know what the motives are behind your actions; we cannot know those deep innermost feelings that you have, and we cannot know the wounds that run deep that very few may know about. They all lie within your heart. What we know about most people comes from what we can visibly see about them. We hear people speak, we see people’s facial expressions, and we see people’s actions. Right or wrong, we make certain judgments about people’s character based on what we see and on what we perceive. We realize that we can be wrong in our judgments. We also realize that we can be fooled. We know that there may be some we see as people of great character and integrity who may not really be. However, if there is a way for us to have a glimpse into your heart it would reveal who you really are. The heart would tell no lies. Our hearts reflect who we really are. Proverbs 27:19 says “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” This means that if we really need to change who we are, we must begin by changing our hearts. We all fall short.
God has given us the capacity to love without limits, but some garbage that we allowed to seep into our hearts work against this plan of God for our lives. Sometimes our life experiences, our position in life, mess with our hearts and they affect how we perceive other people which ultimately affect how we love them. People who have been victims of injustice in their own lives may grow up to become immune to such injustices because their hearts have been calibrated to accept such actions. For our hearts to be recalibrated or retuned or become accustomed again to doing good and love justice, it needs to be spiritually transplanted. Our hearts must be transformed. We all must go through a change process, but change does not come easily. Change takes place over a period of time of consciously choosing to do the right things, to be in the Word of God daily, to be in constant communication with God, and to be in a steady fellowship of the saints. The Word of God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26. Surveys have shown that those of us who call ourselves Christians are just as likely to have been divorced, become addicted to pornography, or use alcohol as much as our non-Christian counterparts. It is in the heart. Our heart must change, and God can change us.
I think it is sad, if not tragic that the world can barely see a difference in the actions of Christians and non-Christians. People should be able to tell that we are different, that we are set apart, people should be able to see a difference in the way that we talk, the way that we act, the things that we do, the things we chose not to do, and the way we love others. Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a charge to go change the world by loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, but we must realize that changing the world, and fixing all the problems in the world begins with ourselves being changed first. Let that surgical procedure begin now, let the transformation begin now because when we are changed, we will be able to do amazing things in the world. That change must however begin with us, and it starts from our hearts.
July 11, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya