“… be wise, and direct your heart in the way”
– Proverbs 23:19 ESV
God is sovereign and in control, but He is not a dictator. He created us with the freedom to choose when He told Adam in the Garden of Eden he could eat from every tree in the garden, including the tree of life, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If he eats from that forbidden tree, he would die (Gen 2:9, 16). Adam was not created as a robot programmed to love and obey, but created with the ability to choose to obey or not to obey God, given the warning. To love and obey is a choice.
In choosing, do we follow our hearts? Or do we direct our hearts? What is the difference between following and directing our hearts? Consider God’s Word: “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9); also Jesus’ caution: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). What is your treasure?
Christians have two selves. The remnants of the old sinful self is still in us, along with “the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). As children of God, we are to direct our hearts to follow God’s ways, rather than the world’s culture to follow the desires of our hearts. The latter is dangerous because desires arise from the remaining aspects of our fallen nature. We are to direct our hearts (Prov 23:19) tutored by God’s Words and the Holy Spirit indwelling in all believers. How then can we direct our hearts in making our daily and life’s choices and decisions?
We can use the same four movements used by Ps Chiew Peng in her recent talk on “Finding self in God” – Awareness, Attention, Attunement and Abiding.
Firstly, be aware of which self in us we are listening to. To live authentic Christian lives, we need to be aware of the dangers of a heart that is deceitful above all else. Our old sinful nature/tendencies could destroy or harm us, physically and spiritually, and be displeasing to God.
Secondly, be attentive to how we think and respond to situations in making choices. Keep in mind Jesus’ warning about where our treasure is, there our heart will be; and be attentive to what would please God our Lord and Saviour.
Thirdly, as we become more aware of what pleases God and be attentive not to sin against Him, we become more attuned or aligned with Jesus in our journey with Him in this world.
Fourthly, as we become more attuned to God’s will and ways, we abide in Jesus who is the vine and nourishes/ supports us the branches to grow strong and healthy in Him.
We can thus direct our hearts to grow to be authentic God-honouring Christians. We intentionally take heed of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit transforms us in the way we think, and come to know God’s will for us (Rom 12:2).
The Christian journey is not a once-off event at baptism, but a life-long one with Christ alongside us, through trials and the vagaries of life, with hope, peace, joy and victory, while ever moving upwards toward the heavenly goal. Through it all, we persist in allowing God to transform our minds to know and obey God’s good and perfect will for us.
To God be the glory!
By sister Lee Yoke Kwang