Friday, May 30, 2008

Inside out - Jeremiah 17:10

"I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."

                        - Jeremiah 17:10

This short verse tells us that God examines the hearts and minds of His people. But then it says that this is in order to “reward a man according to his conduct, …” In Christianity many have created an artificial separation between the heart and their actions. Spiritually immature Christians try to live under this doctrine of “grace” where they think that they can act any way they choose as long as they are born again. Some don’t say this outright but they ascribe to this doctrine nonetheless.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says this:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

We emphasize this when we teach others of salvation because we need them to realize that they can do nothing towards their salvation except choose Christ and rely solely on God’s grace. But then people cohabitate, fornicate, do drugs, have mean spirits, hold grudges, have bad mouths, I mean the list goes on, and then they go to church raise their hands in worship. They are not moved onto the next stage of their salvation which is working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Sometimes the Gospel is watered to down to exclude the part where Christ becomes our Lord. But Jeremiah reminds us that God searches our hearts and examines our minds in order to reward us according to our conduct. The two are intertwined. A correct heart will necessarily produce fruit. This understanding comes with spiritual maturity. As Christians and as leaders we often stumble on the “making disciples” part of the Great Commission. How can we move ourselves and our flock to the next level of spiritual maturity. Before salvation the onus was on the Lord because it was impossible for us to approach God unless he first sought us out. But when we make the decision to call Jesus our Lord and Savior the onus is on us to work it out. Before salvation works mean nothing. Good or bad they don’t get us any closer to God. But after salvation works mean everything because they reveal our hearts and minds and as ambassadors for Christ our actions represent Him to others. What type of God will people see in us? How is he being represented in our lives? What do people see? I have often heard it said, “Who cares what other people think?” But as Christians we must care.