I have a heart condition – and so do you. I'm not talking about my physical heart. I'm talking about my soul, which is my mind, will and emotions. This is the heart of our inner life.
Our inner life is more important than anything else because it is based on our thoughts and attitudes, which determine how we live. Real life is the life that's in you, not your circumstances, like where you live or what job you have or who you're in relationship with… Real peace and joy come from God's Spirit in us, not things or people around us. And when your heart is right with God, it's amazing how peaceful, content and even happy you can be in the midst of difficult situations and turmoil.
Matthew 5:8 says the pure in heart will see God. And Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to "keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life" (The Amplified Bible).
The scripture in Proverbs makes it clear that it's our responsibility to guard our heart. And we need to do it often because each day there are countless opportunities for something to creep into our heart that is not pure or pleasing to God.
The Litmus Test of a Pure Heart
Checking your motives is a good way to determine what condition your heart is in. Motives reveal why we do what we do, which is actually more important to God than what we're doing. If we're really honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we want to impress people, and this is what's causing us to do what we do.
But I've learned a powerful secret: When we no longer have to impress people and we are living to please God and do what He wants us to do, we will have real freedom to be who God created us to be and enjoy life.
Think about it. If your schedule is hectic, is it because God is overloading you with responsibility or because you're striving to do what you feel other people want you to do? Have you ever said, "Well, so-and-so expects me to do this, so that's why I'm doing it." Or maybe you were afraid someone would be mad or disappointed with you if you didn't do what they asked. I've done it. And it just made me miserable and even resentful at times.
I also used to do things because I was nosy and just wanted to know what was going on – even at church! I wanted to be involved in some groups because of it. And at one time I even pushed Dave to be an elder so he could go to meetings and then tell me what was going on.
How to Check Your Heart
As I grew in my relationship with God, He showed me what it means to have a heart like Him. He is a God of grace, mercy, truth, compassion and generosity. Whatever He tells us to do, it's because it's for our good, not His benefit. He gave His best for us when He gave Jesus, His only Son, to die on our behalf so we could be forgiven of our sin through His shed blood.
No matter what condition your heart is in, if you'll trust God, He can heal you and make your heart like His.
If you aren't in the habit of checking your heart and really guarding it, I want to encourage you to spend a few hours alone one day and think about what you do and why. If you'll be honest with yourself, God can help you see the truth about your condition. And the truth will always make you free!