For about seven months now, I’ve been working on my own blog in addition to writing for the Jesus Site. The title of my blog is “Heart, Soul, Mind & Strength.” This blog is focused on what Christ referred to as “the greatest commandment” in response to a question from the Pharisees. This reference can be found at Luke 10:27.
The focus of that blog is the idea of these four concepts. Of course, it all start’s with love, as in “love the Lord your God.” But I was recently thinking about this in a bit more depth. There has been, for a number of centuries now, a good deal of debate about the “essence” or make-up of Man. Are we made up of one distinct part, or two? Or is it three? While thinking about this, I realized that some people could potentially become confused by this verse and begin thinking that we are made up of four separate and distinct parts, or aspects. So, I thought I might clarify that a bit.
Personally, I am a strong believer in the teaching that we, as human beings, are made up of two separate and distinct “parts.” One being our physical bodies and the other being our souls, or spirits. Some people make a distinction between the mind and the spirit, though I tend to agree with a number of well-known Christian philosophers that there really isn’t a distinction between the two.
So, what about Luke 10:27? Are all four of these things separate and distinct parts of Man? Hopefully, I’ll be able to show that they are not, in fact, separate and distinct parts, but rather they could be better described as “perspectives” or perhaps “methods” for lack of a better term.
First, let’s take a look at the heart. In the Gospels, we can see many examples of the fact that Jesus was very interested in our hearts. It wasn’t en0ugh to perform the correct actions, but He wanted our hearts to be sincere as well. If you read through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, you can see that Jesus was always focused on our hearts. For example, it wasn’t enough to not sleep with someone to whom you were not married. Jesus said that we should not so much as lust after another woman. It went back to what was in our hearts.
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. ”
Here, Jesus quotes from Isaiah and explicitly shows that it’s our heart that he is focused on. It doesn’t matter if we “do” the right things, but that we do them for the right reason. Otherwise, it is empty and lifeless. Without our hearts being right, we’re just going through the motions. That’s not going to get you into the Kingdom.
The heart has to do with our desires. If we’re doing something “righteous” but we’re doing it to get a pat on the back, according to Jesus that’s useless. In fact, Jesus even mentions that if we do that and we get glory from other people for our “righteous” deeds, then we already have our reward and it won’t get us any closer to heaven. When we do things for God’s glory, that needs to be our true desire…His glory. Not our own.
I’m not sure that this means that we necessarily have to want to do certain things. We may not want to confront someone who is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. We may not want to punish our children for misbehaving. We may not want to fire an employee who isn’t performing or break up with a girlfriend/boyfriend when we know we need to. There are many examples of us having to do things that we don’t want to do.
Just because we don’t want to do something doesn’t mean that we don’t have the appropriate desire for the “heart condition” to be the way it should be. It comes down to “why.” When we don’t want to do some, and know that it’s the right thing to do, the question is…”Why do we do it?” If the answer is because you are representing Christ and are doing what you know to be right in order to glorify Him, then your heart condition is fine.
So don’t get confused on this idea of the heart being about desire. It doesn’t mean desiring to do a particular thing. It means desiring to please God and therefore doing the right thing regardless of whether or not you “desire” to do that thing. Let’s just keep that perfectly clear.
Similar to this is the idea that our heart isn’t sincere if we are rewarded for doing the right thing. Remember, it’s your desire, your motive, your intention that is key. If you do the right thing and you would do the right thing regardless of the reward, then your heart is still in the right place. You just want to avoid doing things with the desire for those rewards. If the reward is given coincidentally, there is no problem.
Check your heart regularly. What are your motives? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you hoping for a reward? Would you still do it if you didn’t get anything from it? Would you still do it if you were going to suffer for it?
Next time, we can take a look at the other three ideas. In the meantime, what types of examples do you have where you have done what you knew to be right without regard to any potential reward or consequence?
Grace, love and peace!