The Heart Of The Matter

A number of years ago, during my personal prayer time, a God impressed thought came to my mind: ‘the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.’ I sensed this was an important phrase and promptly recorded the words in my notebook. Obviously, my first response was to search my heart, to examine where I might be allowing things to park or take up residence.

Very soon I heard this phrase again exactly as I had heard it the first time, ‘the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.’ This time, however, the words came from the radio. Apparently God was sending this message to a much larger audience. In short order, I began to hear this message repeated from several other sources and always the same words. God was speaking to His people to search our hearts, to take inventory of those attitudes and thoughts that perhaps we were allowing to grow and fester inside us.

Now a solid twenty five years later, this phrase is lodged in my heart and mind and I am keenly aware that those things that I allow access and occupancy to in my inner being have a profound effect on my wellbeing. Not just my mental wellbeing but my wholeness on every level (spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual), all are affected by those things that get rooted in my heart.

In the Old Testament book of I Samuel the narrative of King Saul details how he was given a great opportunity; Saul was Israel’s first king, called and anointed for the position. We don’t need to assume that he took upon himself something that was not his to take, the scriptures are clear that Saul was appointed to the kingship. Important lesson to learn, even though we may be fulfilling the very place God has called us to we are not immune to having cracks in our character. In fact, we need to examine our hearts all the more.

Following the narrative we learn that Saul wanted to please the people even if it meant disobeying God’s orders. His need for social acceptance needed to be dealt with. Under pressure those character flaws in King Saul revealed that he was filled with pride and jealousy. Saul was put off by David’s success, his pride and jealousy needed to be dealt with.  The matter of his heart was left unchecked; eventually he fell to an all time low seeking to murder David. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

With these thoughts in mind, consider how growing older takes no effort; it happens without any cooperation on our part. It is growing better that takes incredible effort. It demands routinely examining our heart, checking our attitudes and motives. Allowing selfishness, anger, pride or jealousy to run amuck within our hearts will limit our usefulness and diminish our impact for God.

How do you know if you are dealing with the matter of the heart? A simple test: do you create an exit plan when faced with strong feelings or attitudes toward others or do you really deal with the issue and secondly, do you play the ‘God card’ instead of actually facing the truth of your heart? It is easier to run, easier to blame, easier to excuse ourselves than to take real inventory and truly deal with the issue inside. Are you angry? Deal with it. Are you jealous? Deal with it. Is pride rooted in there? Get it out. Are you holding a grudge? Deal with it. Are you bitter toward someone? Deal with it. Don’t run and don’t hide if you truly want to grow spiritually and be effective as a Christian.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do,” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. Yes, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart; today, tomorrow and for as many days as God will give you. Guard what you allow in and turn to God for help to get out anything that shouldn’t be in there. The Word of God has cleansing power (John 17:17 and Ephesians 5:26), get into it. Make it a regular habit to spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Be intentional to surround yourself with support from other Christians who like yourself, are making it personal when it comes to the things of God. The matter of your heart really does matters.