Imagine you go out to eat with someone you love. This is a time to share your thoughts and experiences with each other, to get to know each other more, and to build up your relationship. But what if right in the middle of your conversation, you get out your phone and read your emails? Or you’re distracted by a television in the restaurant? Or you don’t really hear what the other person is saying because something else is occupying your heart? The opportunity to build up a loving relationship is lost.
Our relationship with Jesus Christ is like this, too. He wants to have a loving, personal relationship with us, but often, even in our times of fellowship with Him, we’re distracted and preoccupied. In a previous post, we saw that our relationship with Jesus is both begun and maintained by our heart. But the problem is that while we want to cultivate our relationship with the Lord, many things in our world vie for our heart’s attention. We need to learn how to care for our heart so we can really get to know the Person who loves us and wants to have the deepest relationship with us possible.
Four ways to care for our heart
1. By turning our heart to the Lord—2 Corinthians 3:16:
“But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”
Being with someone we love requires us to be present not simply in body but in heart, and it’s the same with the Lord. We may carve out the time to spend with Him, but if our heart is somewhere else, it’s as if we’re not really with Him. Our heart can be turned away from Him to things such as our anxieties, worldly distractions, or even just the day to day matters of life.
Although we love the Lord Jesus, it’s so easy for our hearts to be turned to any number of things. So we need to build up a healthy habit of turning our heart to Him all the time, every day, even throughout the day. We can begin each morning when we wake up with a simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, this morning I turn my heart to You.”
Then, when we have our morning time with the Lord, even before we read the Bible, we can take time to pray again, “Lord Jesus, I love You. I turn my heart to You again.” Since we’re coming to be with a real, living Person, versus punching a time clock, we must draw near to Christ with our heart. When we turn our heart to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Nothing separates us from Him, and we enjoy Him in the Word.
Throughout the day, when we sense our heart has drifted away from Christ, we can pray again, “Lord Jesus, I turn away from everything and back to You again. Oh Lord, I love You.” Calling upon the Lord Jesus can help us turn our heart to Him instantly. And what a wonderful promise His Word gives us—“whenever”! This means at any time, at any place, no matter our condition, we can turn our heart to Him and the veil is taken away.
2. By exercising our heart to believe—Romans 10:9-10:
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart there is believing unto righteousness, and with the mouth there is confession unto salvation.”
According to these verses, believing is a matter of the heart. To believe, with our heart, in the Lord’s Word and His actions in our life is crucial to maintaining our relationship with Him.
For example, let’s say we doubt the words or actions of someone we love. This lack of trust would certainly undermine our relationship.
Titus 1:2 says plainly that God is one “who cannot lie.” He is the most trustworthy Person in the universe! His word is truth and we can believe it. Doubting His words and actions negatively affects our relationship with Him.
Instead of doubting, when we come to God’s Word we should turn our heart to the Lord and exercise our heart to say, “Lord, I believe in Your Word. I receive it, Lord, and I say Amen to Your Word.” This will help keep our relationship with the Lord from being damaged by doubting His Word.
Concerning the Lord’s actions, we must also exercise our heart to believe in His arrangement in our lives and environment. In Romans 8:28 the apostle Paul assures us that “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Especially when we face difficult situations, it’s easy for us to even question the Lord’s love for us. But in Romans 8:37 Paul goes on to say, “But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.” Eventually, Paul ends the chapter by saying that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s certainly easier for us to believe in God’s will for us when things are smooth. But when we have difficulties, it’s even more important to exercise our heart to believe and tell the Lord in faith, “Lord Jesus, I believe in all Your arrangements in my life. I believe You have nothing but good in Your heart for me and that You know what I need.”
By exercising our heart to believe in God’s Word and in His will, we honor Him and keep our relationship with Him in a healthy and normal state.
3. By having our heart sprinkled from an evil conscience—Hebrews 10:22:
“Let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Our conscience is the main part of our heart and lets us know right from wrong. When we’re wrong in our conscience, we know we’re wrong with the Lord or with others. We can’t maintain our relationship with the Lord if we neglect or ignore the sense in our conscience that tells us we’re wrong with Him.
We may not think we have any problems in our conscience, especially if we don’t spend time with our heart turned to the Lord and open to Him. But when we turn our heart to the Lord, we open ourselves to Him, and He has the way to enlighten our conscience. Spontaneously we begin to feel we’ve sinned and are wrong in certain areas of our living. The sense from our conscience convicts us, for instance, when we have a poor attitude toward someone, when we say or do something we shouldn’t have, or when we weren’t honest in a certain situation. Our conscience also convicts us when we disobey the Lord. So when our conscience makes us aware that something is wrong, what should we do?
Instead of trying to cover up or deny our sin, we should simply confess our sins to the Lord. When we confess, He forgives us. Our heart is cleansed from an evil conscience by the precious blood of Jesus. Then we have peace, our fellowship is restored, and our relationship with the Lord can be sustained.
4. By having our heart renewed—Ezekiel 36:26:
“I will also give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
When we were first saved, God gave us a new heart that is soft and loving toward Him. This is wonderful! But to keep our heart renewed, we need to turn our heart to the Lord, believe in Him, confess any sins our conscience convicts us of, and experience the cleansing of the blood of Jesus. By doing this, our heart is renewed over and over, and we spontaneously love the Lord more.
Exercising our heart daily
The above four ways of caring for our heart are not something we do once and for all. Daily, for the rest of our life, we need to pay attention to our heart in these ways.
The excerpts below from The Economy of God by Witness Lee show us the importance of caring for our heart properly, and the result:
“All spiritual experiences start with love in the heart. If we do not love the Lord it is impossible to receive any kind of spiritual experience.” (p. 68)
“We all must learn how to continually turn and exercise our heart, to have our heart purged from an evil conscience and renewed again so that we may love the Lord more and more. It was the loss of its first, fresh love to the Lord that was the cause of the Church’s fall and degradation. When our heart is not fresh in loving the Lord we have fallen. We must turn our heart back to the Lord again and again and have it continually renewed that we may have a new and fresh love toward the Lord.” (p. 69)
May we all learn to turn our hearts to the Lord; exercise our heart to believe in the Lord and His Word; take heed to the sense from our conscience by confessing our sins; and have our hearts renewed every day. May we care for our hearts so that our relationship with the Lord can be properly maintained and grow deeper, and so that our love for the Lord can also grow in strength and freshness!