A New Heart

Jesus isn’t calling us to keep a list of do’s and don’ts; he is challenging us to obey the Father from our hearts, in love.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me
(Psalm 51:10 NRSV).

Little by little, blow by blow, daily grind after daily grind, we let our circumstances rub the shine off of our lives. Too quickly, we become impatient, angry, and cynical. We harden our hearts to protect us from pain and end up isolating ourselves from people and emotions that should touch us and move us to risk loving others with compassion. We choose for joy to become little more than a distant memory as the hard realities of life surround us.

Where can we go to find a new heart, fresh hope, and a different way to look at life?

Paul said it this way:

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Paul wanted us to know that a new heart and the Spirit of God can bring fresh hope and a whole new way of living — living a life like Jesus!

OK, but how do I keep my heart new, my hope fresh, and my re-born perspective on life vibrant?

Jesus promised us that if we would allow him to be our teacher, our rabbi, that we could become like him (Luke 6:40).

Paul promised us that if we would pursue Jesus, then the Holy Spirit would transform us a little more each day to become like him (2 Corinthians 3:18). You see, our goal as followers of Jesus is NOT to keep a list of rules — to do the right things and to avoid the wrong things. Instead, each of us should yearn to have our heart, mind, and will, shaped into a heart, mind, and will like Jesus.

Jesus demonstrated how we should live. His life reveals how his heart cared for people. The Lord’s words show how his mind was rooted in the ways of God. Jesus’ ministry displays how he made his will pliable to the purposes of God.

When Jesus saw that it was time for him to talk to his disciples about the principles that guided his life, he shared his teachings in the “Sermon on the Mount.” Far from being a list of do’s and don’ts for his followers, Jesus’ teaching spoke about the heart that must guide our actions.

The Lord focused on our wills being re-tuned to the heart of God, always guided by love. He shared how we should re-center our minds on bringing the reign of God’s grace (the Kingdom of God) into our broken world. He wanted our hearts, minds, and wills to be an example of what happens when our Father’s will is done on earth as he designed it in heaven.

I hope you will listen closely as James shares about Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” He talks about how we can have a new heart, a heart like Jesus, in today’s video:

Jesus taught us that each of us should center our new heart in loving devotion to God and on loving relationships toward others. Our loving devotion to God then re-orients our hearts, minds, and wills to the ways of God. Our loving relationships with others re-molds our attitudes, words, and behaviors toward the people around us to treat them as Jesus did.

We’re not legalistically checking off good things in our behaviors or feeling proud of the bad things that we don’t do. Instead, our hearts, minds, and wills dive into more profound truths than the surface symptoms of our hearts. Instead, we are hungry to treat people as Jesus did. We yearn for God’s sacrificial love demonstrated toward us to also be displayed by us toward others. Love is the power for the new heart the Holy Spirit creates in us and supplies to us (Romans 5:5).

Can a hardened heart, a cynical mind, and a worn-out will become new?

In Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they can. And they can, in you! Pursue Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to conform your ways to his. And trust that God will answer your prayer with his loving grace. So, let’s pray this old prayer together:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me
(Psalm 51:10 NRSV).

Authors: J Nored & P Ware