The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Jesus (Luke 6:45, ESV)
A commercial for a well-known bank card here in America always ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?” The advertisers have gone out of their way to sell you the benefits of what their credit card can do, and what a tremendous resource it is, if you carry it with you. And of course, behind the advertisement is the assumption that it is the “wallet” that provides the resources that make life worth living.
However, as we navigate our daily lives, “What’s in your heart?” may be a much more significant question to ask. “Keep your heart with all vigilance,” says the wise man. “For from it flow the springs of life.” I need to pay attention and shepherd my own heart if I am going to have the resources I need to really live, regardless of what TV ads may say. And I’m going to need God’s help to do it.
So, what really IS in my heart? It was author Gordon McDonald who once said that “our heart is like a multi storied building, and we don’t always know what’s on the lower floors.” There may be parts of me that don’t know Jesus yet, places where I haven’t allowed him to go.
When I was a college student, I worked nights as a security guard. My duty was as a night watchman in our dormitory which had been an old hotel in center city Philadelphia. I was always a bit nervous when I had to go down into the basement below the kitchen as part of my rounds. It was a dark and eerie place with a sludge pit of some kind and strange sounds all around me. I was always relieved to go back upstairs after having shined my flashlight around because I was afraid of what could be down there.
In a similar way, I’m sometimes afraid to investigate the lower reaches of my heart. I would rather avoid it because I would like to think of myself as a better person than I actually am. I may find painful truth on those lower regions that show the dark side of me. But suppose I don’t need to go down there alone?
I’m reminded that while dark things I’d rather not face may lurk in the nether regions, God already knows what’s down there. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In Jeremiah’s mind, our hearts are sick with an insidious grasping after what is in our own best interests and amazingly capable of self-deception. However, the prophet goes on to say, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” As a friend of mine once remarked, there is not a place in our hearts so ugly or dark where Jesus is not willing to go with us into them.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” says our Lord.If good things are to
come from my mouth, I am going to need to ask the Holy Spirit not just to “search me” but “lead me in the way everlasting.” Christ’s love for me and his determination to make me good can give me courage. “Jesus, go with me into the deep places of my heart, shine your divine flashlight around, show me what’s there and cleanse me from the inside out!Amen.”