Jim Elliot was a young man that grew up in a godly home. He was trained from his youth to be sensitive to God’s will. He was quite skilled in the drama club in school, with some teachers even pushing him to go into theater. He had a heart for the things of God, and even though he was well liked, and was the class president, he did not swerve from giving the Lord first place in his life. In college he felt a call to missions, and went all out to pursue what he felt God calling him for his life. Despite the fact that his parents were telling him to do youth ministry in his hometown, Jim was spending time in prayer over going to the foreign mission field. Jim eventually was martyred for his faith by a tribe of Waodani Indians. Many people considered the life of this talented young person wasted. Yet his journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that missions work was more important than his life. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
King David is one of the greatest leaders in the Bible; as God said about him in Acts 13:22, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” David struggled with many different sins, from adultery to murder to lying. What led David to sin was that he let his heart go unguarded. Once that happened, David started to flounder. Yet David’s son Solomon wrote great advice in Proverbs
4:23 when he stated: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,”or as the English Standard Version says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
The Bible tells us that the heart is the seat of all actions of life. Joe Stowell in “Fan the Flame” says that “The heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as ‘the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity,’ ‘the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will,’ and ‘the center of a person. It is the place to which God turns. ‘“
The term “heart” in the original language of Hebrews had 3 main components; the intellect, feelings or emotions, and the will or desires and determinations. This is what God is telling us to guard. We have to be careful to give each one equal importance because my mind could be saying one thing and my feelings another which would affect my course of action.
As we focus on each part of the heart individually, see if God has all of your heart, or just a portion of it.
Three Components of the Heart
Intellect – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9). There was a man who grew up in a Christian home in Tacoma, Washington. He graduated from college and then went on to attend law school. His friends considered him suave, debonair, handsome, and smooth with the ladies. He was an upstanding citizen; he did charity work, and campaigned for the U.S. Republican Party. He also was once an assistant director of the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Committee. He even wrote a pamphlet instructing women on rape prevention. The man was Ted Bundy who turned out to be a serial killer, rapist, and kidnapper who murdered at least 30 young women in seven states. In an interview the day before he was executed, he said that reading pornographic magazines and violent detective stories set him on his path of destruction. He let garbage go into his mind, and it controlled his life. His thoughts took over. The garbage that was put into his head took root in his life, and was displayed in his actions. As a computer techie, I never forgot the word GIGO, which meant garbage in, garbage out. If I put garbage data into the computer, I was going to have garbage data come out. If I am putting the garbage of pornography, diabolical movies, or music with explicit sexual words into my head, then that is what will eventually come out in one form or another.
I had to cut out spending so much time listening to talk radio and political television because I started to focus on the government of America instead of the government of God. If you want to see what is in a person’s heart, see what they talk about the most. Luke 6:45 tells us, “…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If a person talks about business most of the time, then he has a business heart. If a person talks about the things of God most of the time, then he has a heart after God. The old adage applies here:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
The spiritual battle usually begins first in the mind. If we can win the war in our mind first, we are less likely to fall into sin. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives us the key to victory when it says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Our weapons are mighty in God. They are powerless in and of themselves, but in God they are mighty, powerful and able to bring those thoughts under control and to break down the mightiest strongholds. These weapons include the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), prayer (Ephesians 6:18), and the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Feelings – ”The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Our hearts are deceitful, and it could distort reality.I went to a church once where the single pastor had literally dozens of women chasing him because they all had the feeling that they were the one to be his wife. These “feelings,” the women had caused jealousy, envy, and times of anger among them. Unfortunately it also was a distraction to both the pastor, and the ministry. There is nothing wrong with feelings, but when they control the individual to make flawed decisions, or their feelings go against the Word of God, then there is a problem. The Bible even warns us that some will give up sound doctrine for good feelings; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB) It’s a great feeling listening to a preacher that says God wants us to be rich, and never get sick! But if the feelings do not line up with the facts of God’s Word, than we are turning away from truth, and giving into fables.
Because our hearts are deceitful, we can even misrepresent the Word of God by our feelings. One woman once gave a testimony that was okay for her to date an unbeliever as long as she felt God’s peace. I simply told her that God does not go against His Word, so I don’t know what she was feeling, but it sure wasn’t God’s peace! We have to be careful that our feelings do not overrun our intellect, or God’s Word, but rather work in union with them.
God cares about our feelings. Jesus was an emotional guy! We all know that Jesus loved; we see that Jesus wept, and 11 times in the gospel it says He showed compassion. John 12:27 tells us Jesus’ soul was troubled, and we read that he showed anger while cleansing the temple (John 2:17). God tells us to “cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Philippians 4:5-7 reinforces this when it tells us,”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It truly is a comfort to know that the Almighty God cares for us! He cares how we feel, how we hurt, and all when we get emotional, He tells us to cast all of our anxiety on Him.
Will- “…not my will, but yours be done…” (Luke 22:42) I remember when God told me to go to India. I told the Lord that when I said I was going to be a missionary that did not include India. Just like a baseball player has a no trade clause to certain teams list, I had a no mission’s trip to certain countries mindset, and India was very high on that list. When the Lord kept impressing upon me India, I kept on saying “no, no, no.” I had heard the stories of how bad it was and I was afraid of it. Yet God continued to impress on me the country of India. I then told the Lord, “if you want me to go to India, you set up the trip, the pastor seminars, everything… I am doing nothing.” The next week a brother in Christ called and said, “Hey Joe, I’m going to India and I want you to come. Everything is already setup…” My fight for my will was over, I had no more excuses and I went. I must be honest; landing in Mumbai, India was an experience I will never forget. It was horrible! The air was so thick with smog that I had problems breathing, and my eyes kept on constantly blinking. There were a billion cars on the road with bumper stickers that said, “beep horn to pass.” Even though the cars were mostly at a standstill in the city, they all beeped their horns! We then took a 4 hour bus ride on the Indian highways. Did you ever go on a roller coaster where you thought you were going to die and 40 seconds later it was over? Well the bus ride was like that roller coaster, except it went on for 4 hours. When we stopped at the hotel, I had a greasy, hairy bed, and at that point I told God, “Do you see now why I didn’t want to come here!!” The Lord had to tell me to get my eyes off of myself, and my flesh, to see that the harvest was great, but the laborers were few. I repented of my selfish attitude, and it was like a spiritual revival for me in India. Suddenly it did not seem so crazy or dirty, but it seemed unique to be where God placed me. I fell in love with the people of India, and I have been back several times to minister there.
By giving over our will to Jesus, we are saying to Him, “it is not my plans, my ambitions, my goals, or my will, but yours Lord.” Jesus said in Mark 8:34, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This is the part of the heart that many times we see Christians wrestle with, and we are divided where to give our full devotion, to Jesus or to the world. We want the blessings of God, the salvation of God, but not the will of God. The Apostle Paul said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” (Philippians 3:7-9).
Giving Your Full Heart to God
The Scriptures tell us that, “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). We are to guard our hearts as we come before the Lord, to make sure we have a heart that is following after God. King David failed to guard his heart in all three areas, yet the Bible says that David had a heart after God. David realized his sin, his failure to guard his heart and he came before the Lord and said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
The key to guarding our hearts is to give ourselves completely over to the Lord. Romans 12:1-2 tells us, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
God tells us that our bodies and hearts are to be laid on the altar of worship as living sacrifices. We have to take seriously the Lordship of Jesus based on a surrender of heart, mind and body. When believers commit themselves to God as a living sacrifice, and have their minds transformed by the reading of His Word, then He gives them His good, acceptable and perfect will.
Then His love, mercy, and compassion will flood your soul and give you the life that you are seeking. Do yourself a favor and give yourself the very best thing you can — Surrender yourself completely to the Lordship of Jesus. Then, and only then, will you find the true riches and peace that you have been lacking, and you will experience the highest calling of the purpose for your life.