The attitude of the heart (Part 1)
It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? By words it’s easy to say that it is about the heart. Yet it can sometimes be difficult to actually grasp it. With this study it is my aim to help you to grasp it and to offer you insight in the ways that God showed through His Word.
Many people confuse worship with singing songs. That is no wonder, because most of the Churches are calling their song services, worship services. And some are, some aren’t. But a true worship service still is just a part of what worship truly is. It is possible to sing worship songs that are praising and worshiping Jesus, without touching the heart of God. It is possible to spent an hour of singing worship songs, without anything happening then just singing the songs. Then the “song service” is ended and it’s time for the sermon of the week. Meanwhile we’ve missed a lot of what God wanted to give us. Why? What’s the big deal and what’s the difference? When our heart isn’t in it, it’s meaningless, regardless of what we say or what we sing. But when our heart is in it, then the songs become worship. Then the next question would be: worship of what or who?
God is way more interested in the “why” instead of the “what”. What I mean by that is that the “what” always is a result, a fruit, of the “why”. In other words, I’m talking about our deepest motivation, why we do what we do. And that has everything to do with our focus, because our motivation is always influenced by our focus. First let’s start by pointing out that God cares more about our heart then about what we say or do.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
That’s heavy stuff and it doesn’t sound like the sweet loving Jesus you normally see. But that side is also a part of the character of Jesus. He hates insincerity. He also added a very important warning to that when He said that those people are worshiping Him in vain. In other words He says that He really doesn’t care what we do, when our heart isn’t in it. So that’s where our starting point should be. Our heart.
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Again Jesus emphasizes the importance of the condition of our heart. We are all born with a carnal nature and that carnal nature produces exactly what Jesus mentioned. It points out that our heart really needs to be changed. We can’t change on our own. We can’t use the law or rules to change our heart. With a lot of discipline we might be able to change some of our deeds, but the law or any form of rule cannot deal with the issue of the heart. It’s still there, still producing all those fruits. In fact the heart is so important to God that He daily searches our hearts.
…and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts.
There is not a single thought or feeling that is hidden for God. To Him we are just like glass, He looks right through us and points out exactly where we need to change. There is not a single excuse for any thought or condition of the heart that doesn’t align with the sovereign will of God. Because of that reason Jesus said that those who just honor Him with their lips will worship Him in vain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to worship in vain. Thankfully God never leaves us without a solution. He said the following, through the mouth of Ezekiel:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Jesus knows how desperately we need His help in order to get our hearts changed. Therefore He wants to give us a new heart and He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit. But it’s more than that, because it’s not something static that solves our problem for once and for all. It is dynamic. That means it’s moving and that we have to move with it. Although we will receive a new heart and the Holy Spirit, we will still have our own free will. We have to choose to move along with Him. That is not some sort of new law, but just a decision to follow the Leader wherever He leads us. He will change us from within, something that nothing and nobody else can do, with the aim to make us exactly like Jesus. Who doesn’t want to be like Jesus? I’m sure you want to be like Him!
In the process of pointing the way to us, the Holy Spirit will always point to Jesus and encourage us to keep our eyes fixed upon Him. I don’t know if you even noticed, but we always walk in the direction we’re looking at. The thing that draws our attention, also draws us into its presence. That brings us back to the beginning of this study, where I said that sometimes singing a song can be worship, while at other times it is not. It is possible to stand on stage, singing a worship song, while you think about how wonderful your voice sounds and how great you can sing. Or maybe your thoughts are with the stuff that happened earlier, or with problems and hardships that you are facing. Or maybe you’re thinking about the groceries you still need to get. Whatever it is, it all draws our attention away from Jesus and into its own presence. We must fix our eyes back on Jesus. We must regain our focus back on Him.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It is when we focus on Jesus alone, that we start to transcend above all our situations. At the moment we really worship Him, with all our heart and all our attention, He is drawing us into His presence. At that place there’s room to rest, to recover and to regain new strength. And let’s be honest, we all need that. A lot. But the most important reason to worship Him is because He is worth it. He died for us, He gave everything for us and opened the way to the Father for us. That gives us every reason to give Him all of us, with all of our heart, all of our attention and all of our devotion. When He truly is the reason why we worship, that’s when His power is released.