By J.D. Shadburne
In Acts 8 we are told the story of a true believer. We’re told of a story of someone one who after being “preached Jesus” (Acts 8:35), believed with all his heart and was baptized (Acts 8:37). The Ethiopian Eunuch is an example of a person who decided he was going to follow God from the heart. Do we believe God with all of our heart as the Ethiopian Eunuch did? Are we giving God all of our hearts in worship? Are we living our lives for God or for ourselves? The answer can be found in an examination of our hearts.
Notice the instructions given to Solomon in 1 Chron. 28:9: “know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts…”
Our faith in God should urge us to be servants of his. If we are going to serve the Lord with all of our hearts there are a few things we must do:
First of all we must take control of our hearts.
The Proverb writer encourages us to “keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life (4:23).” We are commanded to have a dedication or a commitment in securing our hearts, protecting it from what we say, where we look and where we go as verses 24-27 suggests. Our hearts are the very center for who we are (Luke 6:45). Taking control of our hearts requires an effort.
Notice the Old Testament example found in Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra made preparations in his heart to follow the commandments of God and to teach others. Following God requires a proactive mindset that must be developed. In Proverbs we are told how to develop when he writes, “Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.” We accomplish our heart through knowledge, this is how we take control of our hearts.
Secondly we must keep our hearts pure.
Keeping a wholesome and moral heart is something too often overlooked in society. Many times we forget that only the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8).
Maintaining a pure heart is also a principle taught in other parts of the New Testament. In 1 Peter 3:15 we are commanded to “…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” We must sanctify, or set God up in our hearts. We are to make our hearts pure by applying Christ. In a world where sin abounds, we are to be different and others should notice a change in our lives.
The Psalmist writes, “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (34:18).” God is close to those who have a broken, or a pure heart, and will save those who have a remorseful or a penitent spirit. We must strive to have a broken heart for our Lord and we must have a repentant attitude when we fall short. We must keep our hearts pure.
Thirdly we need open hearts
Often times our hearts are closed up and we are content with where we are spiritually. Paul writes, “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5).” Paul urges the Romans not to have a hard heart when it comes to Christ. Rather he persuades the brethren to have an open heart to correction, telling them the stubborn and unrepentant heart will be destroyed.
Paul sends a similar message to Ephesians when he says, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-19). Paul begs the brethren not to be like the other Gentiles, or the rest of the world. Paul tells the Ephesians to have a heart that is open to God, open to instruction, and open to others. Can’t the same be said to us? We too must have an open heart.
In closing let us consider Matt 12:35: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” What kind of heart do you have?