An expensive vehicle might have a flashy design and shining duco, with all the latest gadgets, mod-cons, bells & whistles. But if the engine that drives it is poorly maintained, and breaks down, it becomes a useless (but attractive) heap of junk.
Even worse, if the driver is poorly-trained, or undisciplined, or careless or high on drugs or booze, or just out of control, they have a far higher chance of crashing their vehicle than the average, mature and sensible driver. In this case, the driver is the heart of the vehicle.
A successful company that relies on its vehicles for day-to-day operations has good mechanics on hand. These amazing people can, not only diagnose and fix mechanical problems, but also conduct a regular regime of “Preventative Maintenance”. This can drastically reduce the possibility of break-downs and malfunctions that can affect the company’s customer service and reputation.
But what is the heart of any company? The people! And not merely the bosses. The company also keeps reliable and stable staff that use their vehicles and other equipment. They adhere to safety directives and efficiency policies. More and more research shows that the most successful companies (not necessarily the richest) are those that maintain a healthy and caring work environment for their staff – dealing with the “Issues of Life” from within.
Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is working in us. He does regular maintenance – both remedial and preventative on us – if we let Him. The Driving Engine of our lives could be our world-view, our philosophy of life – but ultimately, it comes down to the motivating forces in our hearts. It needs a regular tune, a grease-and-oil change by the most skilled Engineer and Mechanic in the universe.
Note: He has never refused to get His hands dirty in doing all this! That’s why He came to Earth and got so involved, he even gave His life for us!
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV “Keep your heart with all diligence, for
out of it spring the issues of life.”
It’s more than just keeping out evil desires etc, although that is extremely important. But is our heart merely a citadel, an ivory tower, a cold, clean space with nothing in it?
A city with strong walls and a well-guarded throne may seem
okay for a while, but if the king is a tyrant or even merely lazy or
indifferent to his people’s needs, then the people will become disenchanted –
even rebellious, and the city will eventually fall.
Prov 16:32 NKJV “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
History has shown repeatedly that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” [Proverbs 14:34] But more than that, it is clear that any nation whose people strive to seek the heart of God, not merely conform legalistically to the Ten Commandments, has prospered in so many ways. Even the Ten Commandments at its heart is based on the Two Commandments: Love God and love people.
Look what happened in the Welsh revival. Whole communities were transformed. Crime rates dropped to zero. Broken families were healed. The economy boomed because people paid off their debts. Integrity returned to businesses and private lives. All the national issues were resolved because God fixed the heart of the nation.
It’s the same in the medical field. Our inner hearts need a
regular check-up. Yes, we need to keep our whole bodies and minds healthy, but
what’s the good of exercise and diet etc if we get heart-failure and die
because we didn’t look after the main organ that keeps us alive? We generally
function far more efficiently when it’s purring along nicely.
Yes, our parts wear out eventually, because we are in a sin-cursed world. But Doctor Jesus will make sure that our bodies are functioning well enough to get the job done that we have been called to do – if we let Him!
One day He’s coming back to have us fitted with a new model. This is built from the ground up (or is that from heaven down?) It will be one that never wears out or runs inefficiently.
A home is the best illustration. What IS the heart of the
home? It’s the family! If the house itself is well-built, spotless and
well-maintained, but the family is breaking up, what’s the point? The western
world, especially, is full of nice houses inhabited by sad divorcees, bitter
ex-partners or have been sold because the heart of the home has been broken.
It’s not all about having a well-run household so much as well-connected relationships among the family members – especially the husband and wife functioning as a loving couple and as a Dad and Mum.
God is primarily concerned with the state of our hearts, especially our relationship with Him. If our relationship with the Lord is not so good, or even just cooling or drifting, sooner or later it will lead to bad “issues” in the other areas of our lives. The enemy will take advantage of our vulnerability and distract us, harass us, oppress us etc. We end up with bad habits and other brokenness etc. We don’t need this! We have enough to worry about in our maturity, the ongoing redemptive work in our minds, and growth in God without adding all this other baggage in our lives.
If we just simply change our behaviour or do all the Christian disciplines without maintaining our relationship with God (and with others as a flow-on from this) we will just have a cold, empty religion.
How do we keep/maintain our hearts?
- Self-discipline in thought-life and habits.
These interact with our hearts, and either help or hinder our relationship with
our God. Due diligence is the word here.
- Meaningful prayer that fervently seeks His
presence – not merely His “presents”.
- Listening for the Heart as well as the Voice of
God when we read/study scripture. Few things can strengthen and protect the
heart like getting a revelation of the God Who inspired His Word. We should
look at our daily reading/study as a good maintenance session for our hearts as
well as an information session for our minds.
- Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
together as the manner of some is. [Hebrews 10:25]
- We should look at ourselves as essential parts
of the greatest machine the world will ever see. 1 Peter 2:5 speaks about us as “living stones” for the temple of our God. Not only must those stones be tough
enough to take the pressure, but they must also be “alive”, relating well with
their "neighbour-stones" and willing to be placed where they are
- Here’s the hardest one: obedience to His Will.
He knows what’s best for us, even when it ain't pleasant. We all have issues
with that at some time or other.
Whole books could be written on this. Yet any city, any nation, any machine, any building, any company will eventually disintegrate if it does not function in the purpose for which it was designed.