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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Aligned Hearts

To the faithful, you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure… (Ps. 18:25-26)

The Psalmist declares that certain character traits of the Christian are honored with a return of God’s blessing. These characteristics are faithfulness, being blameless, and purity. Faithfulness describes the Christian’s attitude of heart as it relates to his affection and allegiance. Being blameless involves the condition of the heart, as does purity. To the faithful, God shows himself faithful. To be faithful describes the attitude of heart that is steadfast in its affections. The attention of the heart is directed toward only one thing or one person – it is fixed on that, immovable and not quickly subject to change. God is quick to commend those who remain “changeless” in their commitment to his principles, his leadership in their lives, and to his place as “first” in our focus.

Allegiance describes the ability and willingness of the heart to be devoted to someone or something. God honors a heart that’s allegiance is totally toward him – devoted to his purposes and call on our lives. When we are aligned with him in such a way so as to be unswerving in our loyalty, we are in a place where he will repeatedly reveal to us his faithfulness as our Lord. Devotion is probably a more common word we use to describe this attitude of allegiance. When we say we are devoted to someone, we are describing the attribute of having a great fervor in regard to that person’s needs or desires. We make that person the center of our universe – directing both our attention and our affection toward that individual. God honors that kind of allegiance of heart with the same allegiance of his heart toward us.

Faithfulness also involves a certain amount of conscious choice – being careful in our dedication to avoid attitudes or actions that would impact that devotion of heart. We become focused on doing what is right, not because it is a means of “buying our way into heaven”, but because it draws God and us closer together. In turn, we are conformed to his image – just like two people in relationship who have developed a depth of intimacy over the years. When you see those two together, you pick up subtle “sameness” of character, little nuances that let you know they know each other so well that they almost complete each other’s thoughts. As we draw near to God with a devotion that is “fixed” on making him first in our lives, our hearts are melded together with this type of intimacy – we become one with him. We begin to sense what he senses, be moved by what moves him, and are open to his leading because we can anticipate where he is focused.

Blamelessness is a character trait that has more to do with the condition of our heart than anything else. I have a brother and sister that are significantly older than me – they were moved out of the house by the time I was in first grade. Many would say that I almost grew up as an only child because I was the only child in the house for the remaining years of my schooling until I went off into the military. When you are an only child, it is quite impossible to blame anyone else for the broken dish, the missing candy, or the unfinished chores! In other words, I rarely stood “blameless” before my mom! To be blameless implies an attitude of the heart that says we are without reproach – there is nothing in our lives that would stand up under investigation that would discredit us. David is describing a condition of heart that is so determined to live by that which is true and accurate that there is nothing there to discredit us. I am probably not alone when I say that there are times in my life when it does not appear that much opportunity to avoid discredit exists – my responses have been harsh, my attention has drifted to different things, or my heart response has grown cold.

Each of us wants to live in such a way that there is nothing in our lives that brings disgrace – we desire to live determined lives. Determination to live right is easily said, but is very difficult to actualize in our daily walk! David is describing the condition of heart that guards against losing favor or right standing – is focused on staying on course and fully aligned with God’s plans. I am certain that there are people who can do this day after day without any need for reprimand from a holy God, but I am not one of them. I am getting better at it, though! Yet there are times when I require God’s reprimand in order to turn around and get back on course. Why does God bother to reprimand one whose heart is “less than blameless”? It is easy – he loves us with a deep, unwavering love. He reaches out to correct us, to get us back on course, so that we can draw near to him. He restores us to right standing over and over again because he sees us through the blood of Jesus – he sees us in our restored state. We “do” things that are worthy of “blame”, but in coming to him in repentance, he continually embraces us in restoring love.

The last attribute that David described in this passage was that of a pure heart. When we think of something as “pure”, we probably gravitate toward seeing it as spotless, without stain, totally unblemished. When we read a label on the side of a can of “natural” food, we expect to see that there are no “additives” that would make the item contained within less than pure. David is describing the condition of heart that is not subject to being “stained”. We are quite open to “stains” when we are controlled by our sinful natural man – but when our allegiance is first toward God, his “stain-fighting power” is provided to us.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit and the influence of the living Word of God, our lives are transformed – become stain-resistant. We get infused with the very “stuff” that helps us to resist or repel “staining” from the world’s influences, sin’s pull, and our own internal lust. There is a personal integrity that is developed – not because we possess the power to resist sin’s staining power ourselves – but because we are empowered to resist by the Spirit that lives within us. The heart is changed – making it distinguishable from those who remain controlled by their own sinful nature. It is said of us that we have a pure heart – and into that pure heart, God pours his grace, his restorative power, and his fullness of integrity that makes us whole.

It is not an impossibility to live blameless, faithful and pure. It is a matter of the alignment of our heart. It may be time to get “re-aligned” if we find ourselves “out of alignment” today. Just as with the wheels on a car, if we are out of alignment in our commitment to God, we will shake, have an unevenness of wear on our lives, and be drifting off course. Make an appointment with God today for a “realignment of your heart”. You will be delighted with the results.