My new heart is something I couldn’t grasp. If I had a new heart, why am I still doing the same things, chasing the same desires, feeling the same hates? If You made me new, why did I still care about that stuff?
I realized today that having a new heart is not about me. It’s about others. A clean heart is for others. A heart in line with God’s is fully interested in others. And I’ve been trying to figure it out in terms of me. Selfish me. Usually hearts are for yourself. Or at least, mine always was. My relationships, my desires, what felt right to me. Me me me. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourself.” Philippians something. I suck at remember where things are, but I know them. The more I care about others more than myself, the closer I get to God, and more significantly, the closer I get to God the more I care about others.
My old heart never would have cared about orphans in Africa, or the persecuted in Asia. In fact I hardly do now, compared to how much I should care about it. But seeing it now does something to me that I never could have imagined with my old heart. A heart without compassion because it was so busy with self-preservation. And as a Christian I have been struggling with knowing what is right for me, what brings me closer to God. I genuinely WANTED to grow closer to God and understand His will and seek Him with my whole heart… but I still concerned myself with ME. And it was unsatisfying. It tasted bland. It was confusing. And now I understand why that was unfulfilling. Because my heart no longer yearns to make myself happy; this heart wants to love people, wants to give itself away. And it doesn’t feel complete unless it does.
The pastor at my church once said, “Human life is incomplete until we give it away.” It’s true. We naturally long for relationships in which we give ourselves away, whether selfishly or not: marriage, friendships, even in work I suppose. We want to give ourselves away, just some people for their own glory. In ungodly relationships I would give my heart to another, so that the other person will take care of it and prove that they are worthy of receiving my heart. But in Godly relationships, you seek to take care of the other’s heart first, above having your own heart cared for. That’s why relationships that are not Christ centered are so much more difficult. And I would even venture to say pointless. But back to the original subject, my heart has been confused as it seeks to be cared for, to be loved and to be fulfilled, when God specifically shaped it to care for, to love and to fulfill. This heart is new and strange and I have just begun to get the hang of it. It’s for service. It’s for compassion. It’s for freeing the oppressed, healing the hurt, feeding the hungry; breaking chains, loving sinners, speaking up; strengthening the weak, leading the lost, caring for the un-cared for. But only through the strength of Jesus Christ. As this year of confusion has shown me, I can’t do these things on my own. I am not prone to seek righteousness, but the new heart I have cannot feel true joy until I do. It is through Christ alone that I can be satisfied, and not by living a happy, comfortable, “blessed” life. In fact I hope the opposite.
Romans 12 makes so much more sense to me now: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The renewing of my mind. A living sacrifice. That all sounds fine and dandy but I didn’t think much about what a living sacrifice meant. Am I willing to completely forget myself and simply be a vessel for the Lord’s will? To go to even the dirtiest and most dangerous places he calls me; to break my body and physically toil for His kingdom? To walk away from everything I own on this earth, or to have it taken from me? To be beaten and imprisoned for His name? (If people can go through that and God never fails them, how silly is it to be scared to speak up about the gospel in high school?!) Being a living sacrifice does not look like going to church on Sundays and giving a homeless man a dollar. It means giving our whole hearts to God, and our whole selves to the service of others. Our WHOLE hearts, not our devotionals before bed. Our WHOLE selves. Not our soup-kitchen-Wednesdays. It’s crazy, I know. But God’s not exactly the most rational, play-it-safe kinda guy all the time. He is our creator. When we sacrifice ourselves, it was already His in the first place, so we have nothing to be prideful about. We’re blessed that we have it in the first place.
I’m so glad You revealed this to me, God. I know that there is so much I cannot grasp yet and I know that my faith is weak. But I finally see that you have made my heart new! And now I’m ready to give it away.