The HEART of the matter is… that it’s the heart that matters!

by Homer Slack

The hub of all things

As we live in God’s Kingdom we may soon discover that our efforts to keep all the rules are not just frustrating but also not what God requires. Out of frustration you may wonder if there is a single thing that will cause all other things to effortlessly fall into place. The answer is yes, there is a cog which turns the whole wheel. That cog is a love for Christ that is pure and undaunted. Listen to what Jesus says is the greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:35-39 “One of them was an expert in the Jewish Law. So he tried to test Jesus by asking, ‘Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?’ Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is ‘all love’. If this is in place all the requirements of the Law and the prophets will be met. We should love God with all our emotions, thoughts and actions and do to our neighbours and for our neighbours all we would want done to and for us. It is imperative that we understand that our whole existence, all we do or say, must flow out of a heart that is entirely, 100% full of God’s love.

How do we love?

Love must go beyond mere feeling or talk. If love does not produce action then that love is false. “…God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…”[1] so all we need to do now is to allow it to also show up in our actions. Read and understand 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22, then pray to the Lord and ask Him to help you, and begin to do what you have read. Begin to love.

Why do we love?

John gives us the answer. 1 John 4:7- 8, “My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him.” We love because we are born of God who Himself is love. Kindly note that John started out by instructing us to love one another, because having love in our DNA does not mean we will automatically go on to practice it. Before we were dead in sins but now we are alive in Christ to love, hope and have faith. We now have the ability to love God and others in a pure and genuine way. Do not be afraid and quench love. Go on to practice until this love is perfected.

Remembering how God loves us greatly motivates us to return that love to Him and to others. 1 John 4:19, “We love because God loved us first.” Finally, we love because it is required by God. Our father requires His children to love each other and not to be fighting, back-biting and destroying each other. God’s family must be a loving family. Listen to this…

Ephesians 3:14-19, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS through faith; that you, being ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NKJV)

Let us understand what Paul communicates in this passage. Paul is praying to God to grant us.

  • Inner strength by the Holy Spirit.
  • Faith to allow Christ to live in our hearts.
  • Confidence in His love both intellectually and experientially
  • Infilled with all the fullness of God.

Who do we love?

By faith we must allow Christ to remain and fully own our hearts. We must be determined to let His love permeate our beings. We love everyone even our enemies (Luke 6:35) but the love we have for our spiritual siblings must be even deeper. We must love others and even our enemies so that we will be concerned for their welfare. “If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink.” (Romans 12:20) But we must love the brethren enough to die for them. Jesus commanded, in the great commandment, that we love our neighbours as ourselves, but then in John 13:34 He gave His disciples a new commandment that we should love each other as He loved us. How did he love us? He died for us. “We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other.” (1 John 3:16)

Conclusion

Loving makes doing much easier. Love is the grease that oils the gears of life. The man who really loves his job doesn’t drag himself out of bed depressed every Monday morning. The bride whose marriage is arranged may have to drag herself to the wedding, but the bride who is in love is excited and can hardly wait. Love for Christ so overwhelms our hearts that even beatings, stoning and imprisonment we consider as light afflictions[2] compared to the day we so anxiously await the return of our Lord.

[1] Romans 5:5; [2] 2 Corinthians 4:17

Further Reading
Kindly note, anything not done from the heart does not meet God’s standards. The greatest sacrifice will go unrewarded if not done from a heart of love. Paul says, What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others. (1 Corinthians 13:3)  In other words, if we give to the poor, or even offer ourselves as martyrs for selfish motives – like human admiration, tax relief or to be seen and honoured by men – then God does not count it.  We must give because we are concerned and care about the wellbeing of those in need.  If we submit to martyrdom, it must be because we love God why we resolve to please Him and not disappoint Him. In the final analysis it is your heart that matters!