Drew Tacher is a senior at Issaquah High School, and a faithful member of the Eastside Teen Ministry. In this article, he boldly shares his convictions about making sure our hearts stay soft and devoted to God in all circumstances. Enjoy!
Greetings from the Seattle Church of Christ Eastside, Campus and, Teen Ministry! I want to dissect a broad topic in a more specific sense with scripture to guide us. After being around the Word for many years, scriptures take on different meanings and focuses at different times. More recently, one of the most inspiring themes in my growing knowledge of the Bible is re-studying previously studied scripture to dig deeper, discovering new meaning. I challenge you to read this and take on a new perspective for yourself, not off of my convictions but creating your own.
Although what I discuss might be rather negative, I hope to sequel this with a positively focused article on the heart.
John 14:1-4 has recently opened my eyes to new understanding of God and my heart. Starting in Verse 1, Jesus comforts his disciples
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Traditionally, I would read this and gain great comfort in the latter section Jesus’ words, knowing Jesus will personally come back and take me to my own place; and I still do. But like I said, as my life changes, so does my perspective on what different scriptures mean to me at different points in my faith. The very first thing Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me,” has demanded my attention lately. They key word that Jesus uses is “LET”, this assuming that for our hearts to be troubled, we let it happen. Troubles come without our doing, but whether our heart becomes troubled by the exterior is our own fault. Hardships will come, but allowing them to negatively impact our heart towards God, others, and even ourselves is unacceptable!
Admitting it sounds… well…odd, but at the root of my sin is the deception in my heart. Satan will use your heart against you as his greatest tool in the internal war in each and every one of us. Although we have the Holy Spirit, we must LET it inhabit our actions, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and being to take hold of the power Jesus depicts in John 16:5-16.
So, if we let our hearts become troubled, how do we discontinue such a process and proceed with the Spirit of Truth in order to turn our hearts for us? The word tells us.
1 John 3:19-20 “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” Not only do our hearts just trouble us, but they condemn us. When I become truly condemned by my heart, no rational logic or wordplay in my mind will sway my heart away from the lies it throws at me. I become bitter and my heart hardens. A wall is put up between me and everything else, and I sometimes won’t even let God in (devastating thought). This is because sin is deceitful, and how do you harden something soft? Lie to it. Make it go against what it wants and cause it to distrust something it thought was loyal and trustworthy. Is this not exactly what our hearts can do to us?!
But here it is said that we must set our hearts at rest in God’s presence in order to unbar ourselves from this gripping condemnation. GOD IS GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS AND KNOWS EVERYTHING. Hmm.. maybe this can help.
We so often confide in others over confiding in God, when terminally people can do nothing for our hearts because they, too, have imperfect hearts that need God’s reign. Amen, they can help us, but if our hearts condemn us, good luck leaving God’s help number 2 or 3 to a friend’s help. God needs to know everything in our hearts at all times by our lips, even when we are overjoyed in our hearts. Especially when we are overjoyed in our hearts so that when Satan attempts to entrap us it is more than typical for us to go immediately to God.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Maybe you often hear “Guard your heart” and like me for the longest time, wonder what that even means. I’ve heard it in terms of rash/impulse decisions brought on by extreme experiences, dating relationships, confrontation and other instances. Hearing it over and over with little knowledge of it sparked a light in me to figure what this really is. After much advice, teachings, and direction from the Holy Spirit, I’ve found what it means for me at this time. If a decision you make has the possibility to lead you, or someone else, into sin, don’t make that decision. Be completely Holy. Live above reproach. Constantly renew your vows to God and love for him.
This leads into another potentially misleading theme brought to my attention by another disciple. We can’t base our conviction of guarding our hearts on others because it is different for each person’s faith. My sin can be relatable, yet is different from yours. It is absolutely dangerous to base your convictions off of someone else’s, and not search for your own convictions based on the Word. This is why we don’t form opinions on disputable matters, like Scott and Alex love to say, because they will mean different things for each of us and can cause us to sin.
For example, we single people, as well as dating couples, need to guard our hearts when dating or talking to one another. For one person, talking late at night with a girl/guy could be perfectly fine for them and they would be struggle free. For another, talking past midnight could absolutely terrible and they could be extremely uncomfortable. But if the uncomfortable person bases their conviction off of the first person’s conviction, they will be eaten up because they don’t have convictions specific to their own faith and relationship with God. If this example doesn’t coincide with your life or is too confusing, think of another; there are countless!
Colossians 3:1 “ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God… For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, WHO IS YOUR LIFE, appears, then you will appear with him in glory.” A question I often ask, “If Christ is my life and my life is hidden in him, how does my heart deceive me so?” I believe many of us can use this thought to deny ourselves the possibility that we can be made perfect in Christ, limiting the power Christ can utilize in us.
Jesus was focused on earth. Yes, focused like Ray Lewis on a Goal Line stand, but also eternally focused on what was above. He never forgot what he lived for or why he did what he did. Jesus lived his life visioning heaven, and living here while looking there. So many of the times our hearts become troubled are due to Satan using life situations to blind our vision of above. He uses little problems to get your head turning down instead of focused on the sole thing of value, eternity with the trinity. We have been raised with Christ, so let us raise our heads as he did, as well.
Not done yet
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Who can understand it? Divinity! There is no other option for changing our hearts other than deity not of this world. As much as we try, we won’t change a single thing in our hearts, let alone protect them, without the only one who actually knows what is happening in the maze of our hearts. There have been times when I have felt extreme anger, sorrow, jealousy, or countless other emotions for NO particular reason. My heart was trying to fool me and I bought in. But, in all these instances I was able to escape my hearts trickery through prayer. This ties in with the last part of John 14:1, “Trust in God; trust also in me.” Prayer is belief and trust, if we believe our hearts can be changed and we trust that we have no control over it, God will undoubtedly transform our hearts in ways unimaginable! How encouraging it to know that we have someone who can actually understand what wages in our hearts and can act on it! Rejoice in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross, because if he didn’t our hearts would never be tamed. Without the wellspring of our lives tamed, how can we be sure of anything that comes out of us? The only thing I can be sure of is the Trinity of Divinity (Sweet Rhyme) at work in my mortal body making me something I could never be in absence of, making me not my own, but a life that God may use in any way he so chooses; ultimately, glorifying God.
While our hearts can choke us, beyond this world is something breathing that can relieve the hold. I pose this: If you could stop your house from being robbed, would you let it happen?; if you could save someone you love, would you let them die?; if you CAN find joy in your life and grow closer to the ONE you love, why do you LET your heart be troubled and further yourself from these? Find what it is for you to guard your own heart. As for me, I will strive to do just that, and love God all the more, with a heart cleansed by the blood of Jesus and practicality of God at work in us. Amen