First Response

Just as water reflects a person’s true face,
    so the human heart reflects a person’s true character.

Proverbs 27:19

Actions speak louder than words – what we do is who we really are because what we do springs from how we really feel, what we really think. We can say the nicest, kindest, most proper things but unless those words are backed up by our actions they are nothing but hot air. Or a clanging gong as Paul puts it.

The Bible talks a lot new hearts and the reason is because God knows we need them and not just once but constantly having them renewed day by day because as Jesus said it’s not what goes into us that makes us unclean but what comes out of us. That verse might seem to disagree with what I said just above but it is our first immediate response that reveals what is really inside us.

When God talks about our heart He’s not talking about the fleshy organ in our chests, pumping blood around our bodies. He is talking about the place inside us where we understand things, where our emotions and passions are formed, our moral character, our conscience, our ‘inner man‘. This is what we have to protect, guard and let Him change.

Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Proverbs 4:23-27 The Message

If we look at this with ordinary eyes, with human thinking it seems too hard, unreasonable. It’s an unachievable goal. And humanly speaking it absolutely is. But we aren’t thinking like humans anymore, or we shouldn’t be. God has provided the way for us to think and act as He does. His Holy Spirit now lives inside all those who believe and have accepted Jesus as Saviour. God has already given us that new heart, that new way of thinking, that new way of responding that He promised through Jeremiah and the prophets.

Are we instantly changed? Yes, absolutely we are because if God said it then it is. His Word is truth completely and utterly. Do we have to practice putting that into effect? Yes, absolutely we do because we are mortal and frail and we fail time after time. We fail, we repent and recommit to the Covenant and try again until we don’t fail as quickly. We stand secure in the knowledge that we are loved and accepted, that the God we love is not distant and far from us but right beside us, within us urging us on to holiness.

He wants us to pause before we speak or act and filter our response through what we know of Jesus. He wants us to let the Holy Spirit influence and change our response until it becomes our natural response. A response that is to love, to serve, to be holy, to be like Jesus.

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