“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew [5:27]-28
“Check your heart!”
Previously, we looked at how Jesus connects the dots between actions and motives. Here, once again, he’s driving home the fact that our actions are only part of the story. Our heart is the real key.
Let’s say one day I bring flowers home for my wife. She’s appreciative. However when she thanks me, I respond, “Well, this is what I’m obligated to do. As your legally-contracted husband, it’s my duty to buy you flowers. If I don’t, you’ll probably complain about me.” Sure, the action was right and good, but the heart behind it was all wrong! Is she going to be moved by my gesture? Doubtful.
We can do any number of great actions to model our faith, but it’s the motivation of our heart that is most important to God. The Pharisees and religious elite taught outward faith practices and legalism; living a “holy” life that is all about visible actions and following rules. Jesus teaches that true followers of God produce loving actions overflowing from hearts rooted in Christ’s love. Jesus states clearly that it’s what’s in our heart that matters.
Father God, help me not to simply do what is right, but give me a heart that desires to do what is right. I want to be like Jesus, but I need your Spirit to guide my heart and my actions. Amen.
For Further Reading
1 Samuel 16:1-7