The spiritual disciplines (such as Bible reading and memorization, prayer, church attendance, service, tithing, and fasting) are used by God—when they are used by us—to mature us in our faith. Yet as important as consistent practice of the spiritual disciplines is, if our hearts are not in it, what our hands do matters very little!
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Maturity is rooted far more deeply in what the heart beats for than what the hands engage in. It always comes down to the “why” behind the “what” we are doing. If we are consistently engaged in the spiritual disciplines with our hands and feet, but with hearts that are not fully engaged, then engaging for the wrong reason and the results will leave us wanting.
The heart is the “Christian Command Center,” and what rules the heart shapes the life. If we allow the spiritual disciplines to become little more than activities to check off on our “things-to-do” list as we go through our days, our hearts will grow cold toward Christ. It is only when we keep the why in view as the reason for the what we do that we will mature in our faith and begin to maximize the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given to us to expand His kingdom.
Pastor and author Bryan Chapell wrote, “Spiritual change is more a consequence of what our hearts love than of what our hands do. The spiritual disciplines are important, but not as important as developing a heart for God.” I know from personal experience that it’s easy to get caught up in doing, doing, doing, without ever considering why we are actually doing it!
Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
When we keep this truth in view, our hearts beat for Christ; then, out of the overflow, we engage in spiritual disciplines out of delight rather than duty. This is one of the reasons why we must preach the truths of the Gospel to ourselves—not only daily, but moment by moment. A heart that beats for Jesus does what it does not to get something, but because of what it has already been given. We must regularly remind ourselves that it is not our merit that causes God to bless us; rather, it is His mercy. The favor of God is rooted in His goodness, not ours!
So . . . what has your heart been beating for lately? If you have been engaged in any of the spiritual disciplines, have you asked yourself why? It is my prayer that throughout this new year your heart and mine will beat more strongly each day for our Savior. That will mature us more than anything our hands find to do.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!