The Right Abundance
Watch what you store in your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks - what comes in must come out.
Matthew 12:34-35 - How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Whatever there is, inside of your heart - it will come out and make itself known to your world and the world of those around you. If we are aware of the things that we store in our hearts, we are aware of the power of our words and the influence they carry. In addition, the words you speak determine where your heart is at. If your heart is filled with bitterness, it will come out in your words and actions. If your heart is filled with lust, it will come out in your words and actions, as shown in Ezekiel 16:30, where the Lord says “How degenerate is your heart seeing you do all these things." These things were explained prior to this in Ezekiel 16, which contains the prophecies of Ezekiel - a description of ungrateful Jerusalem, in contrast to the love God has for her. Many idolatries were mentioned, indicating not her strength, but weakness mixed with boldness to have her will, not the will of God. Essentially, this prophecy portrays the doing of certain things as the showcase of the heart - what heart you have is clearly depicted by the action you partake in. The actions were those of a "brazen harlot;" weakness in doing good and strength in doing evil - a signifier of evil words and actions. When the heart is weak, wicked and filled with lusts, evil actions are powerfully stirred. The wicked heart moves the individual from a servant of sin to a queen or king of sin - powerfully able to do evil and degenerately weak in doing good; unable to resist temptations or oppose corruptions and easily persuaded by worldly offers.
"The doing showcases the being."
In contrast, if your heart is filled with good things such as grace, love and wisdom, it will come out in your words and actions. You will be a good man; one that is born again and renewed in the spirit and the mind, and justified in Christ, not a man that does good. Good men are not men that do good, but men who have hearts filled with good treasure, for "there is not a man that does good and does not sin" - Ecclesiastes 7:20 and "There is none righteous, no, not one" - Romans 3:10. Both of these scriptures are speaking of good works, similar to Psalm 14:1 - "there is none who does good." The reality is that none can be justified by the law - not one. These scriptures do not intend to denote that, in the nation, a pious man cannot be found; however, that the nation at the time was corrupt. Righteousness was nowhere to be found, and wickedness was evident in the lives of the Jews. The point expressed in these scriptures is not that of lacking - a lacking of good men, but the impossibility of good deeds as a pathway to justification. The natural state of men, prior to being justified by grace, is a state of deficiency. What they may become, after being touched by grace, is not discussed by the apostle. However, Paul shows us in 1 Corinthians 5:11, where he says, "not to keep company with those who are sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner." He even takes it as far as to say that we are not to "eat with such a person." Here, Paul is describing the evil things that come from evil hearts and how good men are differentiated from evil men. The evil man being the natural man - the man that he once was before he encountered the grace of God; and the good man being the spiritual man, who outpours sweet fruits in acts of life and words during conversation, relatable and similar to the personality, actions and righteousness of Jesus. Conduct like that in Philippians 1:27, "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel," is the conduct of a good man, only possible through the outpouring of the heart.
"A good man is one that is born again and renewed in the spirit and the mind, and justified in Christ, not a man that does good."
The good treasures of the heart is most certainly a beautiful expression. Paul, after being changed by grace, became a good man. The heart of a good man is a treasure, and within a treasure, many good things can be found. Things such as divine truths or revelation, expressions of worship, discernment and wisdom and holy emotions. When an occasion for action emerges in our lives, we are called to speak or do. What we speak or do, is drawings from the treasures within us, not the treasures outside of us. Many believe that by doing good, accomplishing great things or doing what the word says, they can become who God has called them to be. However, it doesn't work that way. In Samuel 16:7, the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” In Samuel 15 - Samuel was mourning over Saul who was rejected as king over Israel by the Lord. Rejected because he did evil in the sight of the Lord, disobeyed Him and feared man instead of God. Saul realised what he did, and asked forgiveness. Samuel declined to return with Saul and lead beside him - he knew that the Lord rejected Saul and that he had to reject Saul also. Despite all this, Samuel continued to mourn over Saul. The powerful thing is that Saul knew that he made a mistake and wanted to turn from his wicked ways. However, turning from our wicked way, in and of itself is a deed - a good work. Samuel was looking at the outward appearance and expressions of Saul, a man that wanted to turn from his wicked way, but the Lord was looking at the heart. He knew that there was evil treasure in Saul's heart and decided to pass the mantel unto Samuel. The countenance of Saul was comely and majestic - in the eyes of man, Saul was a great king. Saul was superior to the people, and Samuel thought that such a man should remain the anointed king. If you truly want to identify the character of a person, look at the treasures of their heart. The stature of a man is a qualification that no longer applies as necessary for kingship and rulership - laid aside and rejected by God.
"The heart of a good man is a treasure, and within a treasure, many good things can be found."
A new king had to be anointed, so, Samuel then looked at Eliab, the eldest son of Jesse, and eldest brother of David as the first potential king of Israel. Eliab had the outward appearance - he was tall and had many fair features similar to those Samuel saw in Saul. However, the Lord told Samuel that Eliab and all his brothers did not have the heart to be kind, apart from David, the youngest brother of Eliab. God looks at the heart - He sees not what men have without, but what men have within; man is outward focused seeing only the visible and God is inward focused, seeing the invisible. Inward qualifications are more important than outward in the Kingdom of God; physiognomy is not a measure that God uses - small vs great, black vs white etc. Physiognomy is a large part of the reason why there was racism in many nations - people looking at outward appearance as a means of judging character. The Lord looks at the heart - those characteristics of wisdom and prudence, integrity, mercy and most importantly, goodness. Those good treasures. Eliab and Saul, in the end, had evil treasures in their hearts such as wrath, pride, anger and envy, treasures that disqualified them for the government. In verse 13, Samuel anointed David as king, amidst all his brothers that were mighty and strong. Inward matters, outward doesn't.
"God looks at the heart - He sees not what men have without, but what men have within."
Heavenly-mindedness opens our heart to grace inhabitance, and wisdom utterance. For many years, I asked God to provide me with wisdom, and for the life of me, I couldn't comprehend in what form it would come. I expected more money, more possessions, more success as signs of greater wisdom. The movie, Limitless came to mind - a young man taking a pill that provides him with wisdom, enabling him to do great things in the world. This is what I imagined as a young kid - more wisdom leading to doing greater things leading to more money. What a bad life formula! What I found though, was that worldly-mindedness, a focus on the things of the world opens our hearts up to traits of the world. Traits such as selfishness, pride and envy. Because I allowed these traits to take root in my heart, the complete opposite of wisdom came out. My actions and words were those of jealousy, insecurity, anger and frustration. After many years of confusion, I realised that my focus was wrong. When I started to change my focus from world consideration to heavenly consideration, I was able to open my heart to grace inhabitance. My heart was open, to let in good treasures. A lot of times, our hearts are so full of bad treasures, it can't let in good treasures. To open our hearts by letting go of bad treasures, we must establish closeness with God.
Proverbs 4:23 - Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.
When our hearts are open, we need to have awareness. We need to be aware of what is around us and what we eat. We need to guard our heart. What things are in our lives right now that we should let go of? We can't be close to God, if we do not love what he loves and hate what he hates. Do the things that God loves and stop doing the things that he hates. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, God says, "he is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." He is able. We are not! If we are not able, then why do we try so hard? The key take away here is the letting of God. Every single one of us have areas in our lives that we need to let go of, so that we can let God in. His grace is available to everyone of us, and his grace enables us to have sufficiency. Is Christ sufficient enough for you? God wants us to reign in life, through Jesus, and the only way we can reign in life is if we receive His abundance of grace - Romans 5:17. The wages that we earn, the time that we have should not be spent on things that do not satisfy us - we are to "listen carefully to Him, and eat what is good, and let our souls delight in abundance" - Isaiah 55:2. The fact is that we can do a great deal, to control the moral inclinations of our heart means that it is our responsibility. A heart that is inclined to evils, those of selfishness, pride and envy only vivify evil - sin that distances us from relationship with God, alienates us from his heavenly presence and disembarks us as disloyal to His will and love for us. This inclination is what corrupts the wellspring of life in Proverbs 4:23. The infinite grace of our Lord, bearing power, is able to drive these inclinations from the soul. There are three ways in which we can apply Proverbs 4:23 in our lives - Firstly, we must break our hearts, even if it is not totally corrupt and only lacking central dedication; let God by inviting Him to our inner soul to rule in wisdom and purity that we might be able to live for Him, and not us. Secondly, we must keep our heart - guard our heart with diligence - establish sympathy with God and allegiance to Him. Keeping our heart by being inclined to truths, being witnesses to realities that are spoken by God - being in alignment with words spoken by God, not man. In basic terminology, we must admit that we are wrong and are sinners and that the sin that we placed in our hearts indeed separates us from God. If we are separated from God, we are separated from his divine source - the Holy Spirit that provides us with the fruits of the spirit. Separation from God brings in evil treasures whereas closeness with God bring in good treasures. Third, we must believe in Jesus as the son of God and receive forgiveness for our sins. This is crucial because it provides us with access to eternity, and you cannot have heavenly mindedness without having access to eternity.
Here are four steps you can implement right now, to guard your heart and pay attention to your innermost being:
Get a new heart; The identification of corruption in our hearts is a near impossible task. No good can come from our little natural degenerate hearts so ask God for a new heart.
Purify your heart. "Our of the abundance of the heart" indicates importance in having a full heart. The question is, "what is your heart filled with?" The important thing here is purity. A full heart is not all that is required - a heart that is filled to the brim with clean water is what is required. Ensure that your reservoir is full of clean water so that out of that abundance, pure thoughts stir powerful conversation and life.
Live in peace and tranquillity. Seek stillness and calmness in your soul. It is only in the stillness that we know that he is God.
Abide in him. John 15:4 - "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." A realisation that a heart that is abundant in grace; empowered to do good, comes from Him, the only true vine.
"Heavenly mindedness opens our heart to grace inhabitance, and wisdom utterance."
What things are in your life right now that you can and should let go of, in order to let God? What actions can you take to fill your heart with divine truths and spiritual realities - more time in the word, discipleship?
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