Vault of my heart

What does it mean to hide God’s word in your heart?

Its one of my favourite verses in the longest psalm, Psalm 119. Its all about the vitality of God’s word and how essential it is for us to read it and live by it. 176 verses of reminding in case you forgot.

But hide it in my heart? How am I to do that? I like the way The Message gives me a fresh perspective because I dig idioms: “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.”

The wording reminds me of Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven, where neither thieves, nor rust can touch them.

Because of my connection to the world, my own sin, and other fallen people, circumstances and words can infiltrate deep inside me and eat away at the things that I’ve thought were untouchable. I need to internalise Scripture so deeply that nothing can touch that sacred place where I study it and it seeps through my skin and into my bones.

Once Scripture is part of me so deeply and fundamentally that its as good as part of my DNA, then I can draw on it to fight against sin. The Psalmist hid Scripture in his heart and he used it to resist sin.

Jesus was obviously immersed in Scripture, quoting it constantly. In fact, he quoted the book of Deuteronomy a lot. He quoted it when he was in the desert facing barrages of temptation from the enemy:

Man does not live on bread alone…
…Don’t put God to the test…
…Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.

Man does not live on bread alone…God humbles his people so that they will realise that they need God’s word more than anything else.

Don’t put God to the test…don’t doubt Him, or His love and concern for us. Kind of a refutation of Depeche Mode’s ‘blasphemous rumours’ (your 80’s cultural reference out of left field for the day).

Fear the Lord your God and serve Him only…He’s done it all for us so we should honour Him. Our way of life should be all about him.

I can’t just keep Scripture in the vault of my heart and keep it locked away. I find that when the vault stays locked for a while and I don’t venture inside to review Scriptural treasures, I’m more vulnerable to sin.
Sin: a game of whack-a-mole.

Scripture: a wooden hammer with heft that fits into my hand. Batter-up.

Patience, or Hall monitors

Still in Romans, peeps. Now in the 15th chapter and Paul’s pen is dripping with ink, theology soaking into the page, and practical directives spreading out into the margins.

 

That’s what happens when the writing of your epistle is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

 

Verse 1:”We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Why do I need to do that? Can’t I just leave the weak to their own thing?

 

Verse 2: ” Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” Okay, I see what Paul is saying, I’m not a guy in isolation, but I’m connected and interconnected with my Christian brothers. I don’t often feel like it though. Like Monday is not a good day.

Verse 3: “For even Christ did not please himself…” Totally selfless. I’ll never get there on my own. I’m as full of selfishness as the air in my lungs. I gulp it in and breathe it out. It reaches to the farthest capillaries in my extremities. You can smell it on my breath.

 

From what Paul is writing here, I can infer that there is a direct proportion between my level of maturity and the patience that I do (or don’t) show.

 

Mature Christians are supposed to be immersed in Scripture and trending in the direction of more endurance and patience. Which results in the mature Christian showing that patience with his or her more legalistic brothers or sisters.

 

Verses 4 and 5: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…”

 

Subjectively, it feels as though I have less patience as I get older. But then, there are different types of patience. A sign that I need to read more Scripture? I think so.

 

My impatience is never more obviously on display than when it comes to people who are legalistic about masks, social distancing, and other regulations, which to me don’t seem at all reasonable.

 

There are certain of my Christian brothers and sisters who take what the government says literally and seriously, neither of which I do. It remains difficult for me not to become impatient with the culture of hall monitoring that has emerged.

 

In verses 6 through 7, another reason becomes clear as to why the more mature Believer should be less selfish: because of unity, all of us praising God with one voice.

 

Verse 7:”Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

 

Christ accepted me in love. I should not do any less for my fellow Believers. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians describes what love is like, as well as not like:

 

What it is like:

  • Patient
  • Kind

 

What it is not like:

  • Envious
  • Boastful
  • Proud
  • Dishonourable
  • Self-seeking
  • Easily angered
  • Keeping a record of past wrongs
  • Delighting in evil

 

What it does:

  • Rejoices with the truth
  • Protects
  • Trusts
  • Hopes
  • Perseveres

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A+4+-+7&version=NIV

 

These are the things that Paul is writing about in Romans…patience, perseverance.

 

The Christian has so much freedom, as Paul says: all things are permissible, but…

 

Not everything is beneficial.

 

Not everything is constructive.

 

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+10%3A+23+-+24&version=NIV

 

If freedom is like a car, I’m one of those who wants to put my foot on the gas until it mashes the floor, but Paul writes that I have to moderate my acceleration. I have the freedom, but the road isn’t only mine.

 

We have a problem with selfishness, a default setting that wreaks havoc. Even the Christian is easily swayed by that most natural of human settings.

 

Its literally stunning how selfless Christ was, doing nothing on his own, listening to and submitting to the Father, seeking to glorify the Father, making it pretty obvious that by contrast I don’t measure up.

 

We need to spend more time in Scripture in the example of the early church who devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2: 42) which led to a quiet revolution and transformed them into a community I want to get to.

 

Acknowledgement to February 2020 sermon by Pastor Skip Heitzig: