In April, we talked about what it means to Open Your Heart. When you open your heart to God, yourself and to hope, He gives more of Himself and transforms your life to live in the fullness He offers through Jesus Christ.
This month, we dig into what it looks like to Examine Your Heart and remain in a heart posture that seeks to understand the “whys” behind our goals.
We’re all driven by something, whether we’re aware of it or not. We spend countless hours in the gym on our jump shot because we want to get better—or we want to be the best.
We go the extra mile in practice because we willingly sacrifice for our team—or we feel like we have something to prove.
Our motivating factors determine the “why” behind the “what”. If we can be honest with ourselves and understand what pushes our performance, we can assess what we need to move forward and what adjustments must be made.
It’s tough and requires us to get real, but it’s for our best.
Examine Your Heart
It’s the same with our faith. If we’re just calling out lip service and saying we believe in God, but don’t act like it in our everyday life, something’s off. God knows our hearts better than we do, and nothing can be hidden from Him.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God does not focus on the outward appearance but what is within, and we should do the same. Take a good, long self-assessment. Why have you been behaving certain ways? Are there certain patterns you seem to keep coming back to? Are you really being honest about why you keep going to church or small group?
“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
Be intentional with yourself. Be willing to test the conditions of your heart to find out what makes you tick and why. This evaluation allows us to better understand the driving forces behind what we do and implement lasting habits that are fueled by our desire to live a life in full with Christ.
It’s a way to transform into who God has created us to be. Plus, there are three benefits to examining your heart:
Examination Brings Calmness
Understanding our place on God’s team allows us to redirect our efforts to encourage and help others.It actually takes more energy to try and keep it together than letting it all come loose. When we dig into the “why” behind the “what” and name our motivation out loud, there’s a wave of release that rushes out and we can breathe easy, knowing we’ve let God in on the hidden things of our life.
We may be afraid of what we find, but God isn’t. He can take us where He knows we need to be, but it’s only through a willing spirit. Once we admit where we are, He is the One who can take our misguided motivation and realign us to His purposes. And from our admittance, peace and joy flow freely into our relationship with God and others, because we no longer need to pretend we’re in control of keeping everything in check.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Examination Brings Closeness
From that joy and peace, we rejoice in closer communion with the God who made us. Because God designed us for two-way relationship, that need is felt in our soul when we go over who we are with the One who placed our deep desires and hopes in us. God is always drawing us closer, inviting us to continually assess our hearts, because He wants to ultimately shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Growth happens by pruning and clearing away the gunk that’s in places it shouldn’t be. When we allow God to come close and examine our hearts with us, He takes away what’s harmful and replaces with what heals and helps us, for greater unity with our Lord.
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21)
Examination Brings Clarity
Once the mud of our own motivation is cleared out and replaced with the light of Christ, we see things from an eternal perspective. God gives us eyes to see and ears to hear, and hearts that tune to His. As we learn the voice of our Shepherd, we’re locked into the right motivations He shares with us that are for the good of His people and glory of the Father.
Understanding our place on God’s team allows us to redirect our efforts to encourage and help others. It’s not about us anymore, but rather, what we can bring to God for the greatest impact on our teammates, family and community for His Kingdom.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
The more we’re willing to ask ourselves the hard questions, the more we can uncover and have God fill us with His perspective. If integrity is what we’re after, both in athletics and life, then we must constantly be aware of our heart’s desire and adjust it as often as need be to live out the love of God to a world looking for real motivation.
Consider: What are the hard questions you need to ask yourself?
Action: Make a list of motivations that aren’t of God and replace them for what God wants for you.
This quarter, we’re exploring what it means to Pursue Life. This month, our focus is on how to Examine Your Heart. Join us as we journey through this exploration and prepare to Surrender Your Heart next month.
One way to openly engage with your heart is through FCA’s The CORE, a journey through eight essentials on how to engage in God’s Word, be equipped in the basics of faith and be empowered to help others grow in Jesus Christ. Bring a friend along and join the journey!
In Case You Missed It:
Go back and read previous months' articles:
January: Imperative: Read The Truth
February: Connected: Pray The Truth
March: Accountable: Reach For Truth
April: Be Honest: Open Your Heart
*If you read this article and aren’t in relationship with Christ yet but would like to know more, we invite you to go through FCA’s The FOUR (need link) that explains how an everlasting and fulfilling life with God is possible.
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