the heart of the matter {thoughts on Romans 2:1-3:8}

The secrets of our hearts are not secrets to God. As a follower of Christ, I am called to live a life that reflects the heart of God, both inwardly and outwardly. To know and reflect the heart of God, I must be devoted to His word and His way. I can never do enough, work hard enough, be good enough to earn God’s favor, but God looks at our hearts and knows our innermost being.

Christ taught in Matthew 5 that sin begins in the heart. What I do is important, but who I am on the inside is what counts. It is not enough to abstain from the act of murder or adultery; I have sinned against God as soon as anger or lust enters my heart. Inward intentions, not outward perfections, are important to the all-knowing God. The world may not see it, but God does, and it matters to Him (Romans 2:16, 1 Samuel 16:7). We will be judged by our deeds (Romans 2:6) according to truth (Romans 2:2).

Like the Jewish world of Paul’s day, the modern “first-world” Christian church is given great advantage and blessing from God in that we have His word freely available to us. This privilege comes with great responsibility to live a life that glorifies Christ. If we claim to be a part of His kingdom, our lives ought to reflect his character on a regular and consistent basis. Occasional falls are to be expected – we are certainly not perfect – but a consistent life of disobedience to God cannot be negated by going through a few religious motions. “A church…will die from corrosion within – from those who bear the name of Jesus but have never met him, and from those who have religion, but no relationship” (from On the Anvil by Max Lucado).

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s word should train us in godly character and change us. It is relatively easy to live by a high moral standard outwardly, going through all the motions of religion expected by our culture and customs, but God judges us knowing our hearts. Like King David, we may defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and then fall victim to the temptations of the world (2 Samuel 11-12), but God still calls us His own. I will never be perfect, so praise be to God that He is merciful. All He asks for is my heart.

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All Scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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