Bible study, Encouragement/Devotional, Faith, Growth, Lifestyle, Ouch!, Relationships

The Heart of the Matter

Do you have anyone in your life who asks you the hard questions or says the hard things? The ones that make you uncomfortable, challenge you or perhaps, may even make you angry or defensive? If you don’t have at least one person in your life like this, ask the Lord for one. It is absolutely necessary if you desire to grow. There is One, however, who is readily available to you and will always get to the heart of the matter every time with you. He is the Master Coach and truly the G.O.A.T. at asking the hard questions and getting down to the root of an issue. Jesus, although gracious in His approach, always leaves the choice up to us in how we will respond to the issues He uncovers lying dormant in our heart.

Many times, His questions and probing will lead to a crossroads, and we have a choice of whether we will choose death or life, literally, in some instances. Such was the case in a very familiar passage about the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22. Jesus first addresses the practical side of obtaining eternal life, based on the question the rich man asked, and sure enough, it was a performance based/oriented question. It’s often challenging to keep a Kingdom focus while living in a performance based culture, where we are conditioned to believe that it’s our “works” that earn us rewards. We’re taught there has to be some sort of exchange, some good deed we can do, to move forward in life. Yet, this is so different in the Kingdom of God. The rich man’s question already begins to reveal that he didn’t truly understand that eternal life was a gift and not based on what he could do, but instead, based on what Jesus had already done.

Jesus responds by telling him about what many would consider, even in some Christian communities, as the most important things–keeping the law or the commandments (v. 17). While this has its place, and it is important to keep the commandments, the man’s next question, allows Jesus to direct the conversation in a way that gets to the heart of a deeper issue. He also conveniently leaves out the most important part and addresses it later.

Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?

Matthew 19:18-19, NLT

Notice the commandments that Jesus did list vs the ones He didn’t list. Later on in the Gospels, Jesus, just a few chapters over, in Matthew 22:36-40, was asked another question about the greatest or most important commandment to which He responds:

You must love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:37-40, NLT

Do you see a connection? We cannot truly follow any of the commandments Jesus listed if we haven’t yet grasped and followed the first and greatest commandment-to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. Our relationship with Jesus is first vertical and then extends outward, horizontally to others, just like the shape of the cross. If we haven’t grasped the greatest commandment, what we’re doing in obeying the others, is just mere works and pursuing a religionship, without a relationship. And this, my dear sister is the heart of the matter: If we love anything or anyone more than Jesus, it is going to be hard to do the “what else I must do” that Jesus instructs this young man to do:

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

Matthew 19:21, NLT

Jesus came after the man’s possessions, exposing where his treasure really was. This is how I read what Jesus said to the man and what He may be saying to your heart and mine:

After you’ve kept the Law/commandments, I still don’t have access to that area of your heart you haven’t yet surrendered, where your true treasure is, Daughter. Keeping the commandments and obeying Me is birthed out of your love for Me. Remember I told you that if you love Me you will keep My commandments? Yes, you may have kept the other commandments since you were young, but what good is that if the very thing I want the most, your heart, you have chosen to keep from Me and instead have chosen to hold on to what I have called you to release, to give away? Yes, you have kept these commandments since your youth, but what about the first one my Father mentions: to not have any other gods before Him?

His gods he had before Jesus were the ones the young man chose to hold on to, and instead walked away from the One true God. It was his love for his other gods, which he willingly refused to part with, that prevented him from following Jesus. This revealed the young man’s divided heart in his unwillingness to part with his possessions. There was no way he could wholeheartedly pursue Jesus and thus, missed the opportunity to discover that what was the most prized possession of all-a relationship with Jesus was well worth what he thought was giving up.

Reflection questions:

What has the Lord asked you to release, give away or part with?

What may be competing with Jesus for first place in your heart?

Where may your heart be divided?

Can I share something with you Sis? What you gain from what you think you have lost, or feel is so difficult to give up is far greater–an eternal relationship with Jesus–the One who can redeem all those things you release to Him. He is always the best choice and the most prized possession of all.

But before you go…

***Tomorrow is not promised. Today is all we have. If you are reading this and haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as Your Lord and Savior, would you consider doing so right now? Jesus died so He could have a personal relationship with you and so that one day, when you leave this earth, you can spend eternity with Him. You can say a prayer similar to this:

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. You showed Your great love for me, while I was in my sinful state, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. Today, right now, I declare that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. Please enter into my heart, Lord Jesus, forgive me of all of my sins, and seal me with Your Holy Spirit. I choose this day to live for You, all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you said this prayer (or something similar) and you truly meant it, welcome to the family of God! Angels in heaven are rejoicing with you on the best decision you will ever make in life, and so am I! Please send me an email (ladyinwaiting222@gmail.com) or respond to this post so I can celebrate with you!

Then the Lord God made a woman

Genesis 2:22, NLT

Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT)

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