As you look at the year so far, what do you see? Wisdom and experience tell us that “perspective is everything.” Abraham Lincoln expressed that when he said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes grow roses.” How you look at things determines so much. How does Jesus want us to look at things? Few things in Scripture are as important as keeping in perspective the heart. The heart – that center of your emotions, desires, and will – that is where God is calling you and me to look.
From the Heart
It is so easy for us to underestimate the importance of the heart. When Jesus was questioned about the Greatest Commandment in Mark 12, He reminds us that true obedience begins with a heart response: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (v. 29). In fact, all of our behavior begins with our heart: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, because from it flows the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus echoes this same idea when he said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Who you are will determine what you do. So that raises the greatest question of all – who has Jesus made you? Where does your heart sit in relation to His commands? There would be nothing better than to stop reading this article and spend some time prayerfully asking God where your heart is at.
In fact, that is exactly what King David did in the Old Testament. In Psalm 139, David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my anxious thoughts!” (v. 23). David knew there was nothing more important than the heart, and the Lord’s opinion of our heart is the most important of all. But where did David get this heart-perspective? He had witnessed it in a radical way, first hand.
Years before this, when David was still a small boy, God had sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint one the young men there as the next king of Israel. And though several handsome, strong, and battle-ready men passed before Samuel, the Lord did not chose any of them. Finally came David, the least, the youngest, the weakest. And why did the Lord choose David? “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature… For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). David knew the value of keeping a heart-perspective because El Roi – “the God who sees” – had taught it to him when He chose David to be king.
Over and over in the Bible, God puts the emphasis on the heart. In salvation, the Ancient of Days writes His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31 – 34). When we are spiritually born again, He gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). And as we grow in faith and holiness, our hearts grow in amazement at what we have through Christ Jesus: “I pray you will have the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable power at work within you…” (Ephesians 1:18 – 19).
So Christian, what about you? Do you have this biblical, heart-perspective on life, or are you still caught up in seeing things from the world’s perspective? For many people, the temptation is the same as Samuel’s from I Samuel 16 – we tend to look at the outward and the external. We want to know how big? How loud! How much (it will cost!)? And how successful. God certainly knows and sees these things, but His priority is on the heart. Will we learn this difference, and then submit to obey, to see as He sees?
Changing Our Perspective
To learn to see how God sees, it must begin with 1) how you see Jesus, and; 2) then how you see yourself. From a human perspective, Jesus doesn’t look like much. He was a common carpenter who never traveled more than a few hundred miles from his hometown, who never wrote a book, never achieved political success, never maintained a consistent following, and was ultimately executed by local authorities.
And yet when we look upon the heart, our vision is exploded by the God who took on human flesh, loved others perfectly, demonstrated that love through His sacrificial death, and changing the universe by rising again! Having a God-centered perspective of Jesus helps us to see not a mere carpenter-peasant from Nazareth, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
When we look at ourselves, it is easy to see our successes, our failures, our reputation, and a million other variables that change with wind. This is what the world focuses on, and encourages us to look at as well. But what do we see when we look on the heart? If we are in Christ, there is only one thing to see… new creation! All the success and failure are the “old things” we now “count as loss” compared to Christ (Philippians 3:7 – 8) in the old way of life that has been destroyed by the new creation we have in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17)!
Living the New Perspective
As we make our way through a year that is still fresh, let us join together in changing the way we see. Let us look at one another from the heart, not the externals. Let us look at God’s commands – not as burdensome – but as His loving will for our spiritual health. Let us see our congregation not as a service to meet my selfish needs, but as place where I can serve my neighbor from a heart of love through Christ. When we see the world this way, then everything can be changed, our hearts will soar as His immeasurable power works through us!
Praying with you for a heart-perspective from our Sovereign Lord!