Do you know someone, who, when you see them, or look at them, you think to yourself, “she’s got a good heart”. What does that mean, that kind of heart? And, how did she get a good heart?
And how come that guy over there doesn’t have a good heart? How do you get a good heart? I want a good heart. I want people to look at me and say “see that guy? He’s got a good heart”.
Any Rush fans? They have a song, Closer to the heart. Here’s the first three lines. And the men who hold high places. Must be the ones who start. To mold a new reality. Closer to the heart. Closer to the heart
I can’t say exactly what Neil Peart intended when he wrote those words, but for Jesus, the closer we can get to the heart God intents for us to have, the closer we get to a new reality. Life can be very different with a changed heart.
Here’s what King Solomon wrote, from Proverbs in chapter 4: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. For everything you do flows from it.
Think about an area of your life that needs some attention. What’s something in your life right now that needs to be changed? For a long time, you know, and you’ve known, that you need to do something about it.
A husband finds out his wife is leaving him because he can’t control his temper, what’s he do? Well, he enrolls in an anger management class, and starts to take yoga, he’s gotta do something.
A couple are having a really hard time making the minimum due payments on their credit cards, things are falling apart quickly financially, what do they do, they’ve got to do something. So they go out and they buy a book on money management, and they decide they’re gonna have a garage sale. Not a bad idea. They have to do something.
A man starts to have chest pains. His eating and his stress has kind of caught up to him, he knows he needs to do something, what’s he do? Well, he goes on another diet, and he gets a membership at a local gym.
And Solomon is saying “Look, changing your behaviour is good, but, it’s not the first thing you need to be doing. You need to first understand that all of those actions are coming out of your heart. They’re coming out of a deeper place.
You might think you have an anger problem, you really have a heart problem. You might think you have a spending problem, you have a heart problem. That’s the wisdom Solomon is giving us. You might think you have an eating problem, or a gossip problem, you have a heart problem. And you can change your behaviour and it might lead to some temporary change. It might last for a week or two, or maybe even a month . . .
. . . and many of us have been on this cycle for years. You’ve tried to change your behaviour and it hasn’t worked, and you find yourself in the same situation, and you’re exhausted.
And Solomon is saying, “It’s deeper than just changing your behaviour. It’s about the heart.”
Think of it this way. Imagine that you’re walking, you’re out hiking on the Bruce Trail. It’s a hot day, but you’re prepared, you’ve got lots of water and a brimmed hat for shade. And you come upon a creek, in the woods, that is just heavily polluted.
And you think “I’m gonna do something about this. You see garbage along the banks of this creek, that you imagine used to be so clean and beautiful. Stuff is floating down the current, and there’s a nasty film on the surface, and so you start to clean out the garbage as quickly as you can.
You spend a few hours out there, and then you step back, and, where you are in the creek, you can see that you’ve made a difference, it looks a lot better. And you determine, then and there, you’re gonna start coming back here everyday, til you get this cleaned up.
But you come back the next day, and there’s just as much garbage as there was when you started. And the day after that, just as much garbage. You’ve worked hard, frantically, and you’re exhausted, every night when you go home, but when you return the next day, it doesn’t seem as though you’ve made any progress.
And then you get smart. And you decide you’re gonna walk upstream. You go up a couple of miles, and what do you find? You guessed it. A dump. Turns out this creek runs right through a dump.
Now, Solomon is telling you something that you already know. You can spend a lot of time, downcreek, pulling out the garbage. You can exhaust yourself, spend all kinds of energy, but, until you address the source of the problem, you’re really not doing any good at all. You might make a little bit of progress for that day, but until you get to the source, it’s wasted time.
Sometimes, this garbage starts to show up in our lives, and we don’t know where it came from, and we are working really hard, making an honest effort to get rid of this stuff. Do you know that treadmill? Of course you do. And so Solomon says, “the heart is the source. Make sure the heart is putting out the right stuff.”
Psalm 51 at verse 10 says this: Create in me a new heart. And renew a steadfast Spirit within me. This is what God will do for you, give you clean heart.
And that’s what we’re offered. That’s the message that Jesus brings. We can have a new heart, so we don’t have to keep coming back, day after day, to that polluted river. This time, we can clean it up, for good.
How? God gives us good direction. All through the ancient words. We’ll look at that in my next blog. In the meantime, find a cool place and read Psalm 51. You might not need my help finding the answer.