when God doesn't agree with our hearts

Hanging out with some brothers this week, we came across this portion of scripture in 1 John:

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

It’s in the middle of a discussion about loving each other in real, tangible ways, such as helping one another in times of need. Pretty relevant today, eh?

But there is definitely an intent here of protecting our sense of freedom and rest in God’s presence. I love the way John validates the reality that there are times in this life when our hearts condemn us. And he is telling us that in those times we need to tell our hearts the truth; tell our hearts to be at ease, at rest, if we know we are his.

And then there’s this line, “For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

What an awesome thought. And how meaningful that John would be saying to us, “Hey, there are times when our hearts are going to lie to us, and try to get us under a pile of condemnation. In those times, dial up to your awareness how God is moving on you to actively live out your love for others, and that this shows you are his. And remember, God is bigger than that part of you that is making you feel condemned right now.”

Other parts of the bible come to mind, like, “speak the truth in love” – and how we need to speak it to ourselves sometimes. And “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” – so if you’re sensing condemnation, and you’re one of his, then you know the source of that condemnation isn’t him.

I keep coming back to “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” That’s really an amazing truth. There’s so many things we can struggle with on the inside, and our hearts can really sound convincing sometimes! How freeing it is to know that he’s just so much bigger than all that. He’s above all those things that we feel condemned over; isn’t phased in the least. Didn’t even give them a glance. That stuff isn’t coming from him, and he doesn’t agree with it. And he’s always right.

Nice to know.

7 Replies to “when God doesn't agree with our hearts”

  1. That’s another great thought, Page. But I can see the ‘religious’ saying, “what? You don’t want to be convicted of wrong?” I’m sure you are implying a difference between conviction and condemnation, but unfortunately, sometimes we have to actually SAY that in a defensive posture.

  2. Page,

    Within the text you mention is a clue to why we feel condemnation in specific terms.

    let us not love with words or tongue

    Our old nature is steeped with not only our old way of thinking but of feeling, as well. The entire culture (and I think this would be universal across the globe due to the fall) reinforces false messages and actions of what love is. This perspective is built on self-preservation–getting along well in the culture is a strong motivator to be what others expect.

    Thanks for reminding us that we are learning the love of heaven and God does not condemn us as we learn by doing, nor does He condemn when we reject religious activity.

  3. Gordon – yes, I can appreciate what you’re saying. And as it goes, sometimes the best defense is a great offense! And here I mean boldly living free of condemnation, being unapologetic receivers of his grace and kindness, that he might display to this world and to the heavenlies the kind of loving Father he really is (Eph 2).

    ded – thanks for your thoughtful answer – stimulates more thought again. Yes, our gathering began with the sense that God wanted to have us centered on the elusive idea that love really is what it’s all about, loving God, receiving his love, and loving others, and allow him to teach us the truth about it so it’s not so elusive. Else, why would he have made it the top priority? Not that we could really do anything to make it any kind of theme, per se, but I must say that over the long haul, we come ’round to understanding love gradually. Good thoughts.

  4. In this 1 John passage the Lord reveals one great subjective means by which He assures us that we belong to Him, rather than leaving us open to the enemy’s accusations that we’re just professing Christians who are really hellbound unbelievers because we don’t measure up to Satan’s legalism’s demands. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.” (1Jn 3:16-19) It’s such a kind provision of our heavenly Father, a gift of His grace, that whenever we cheerfully give the world’s goods to a needy brother in Christ, He causes our heart to be assured before Him that we are of the Truth. Sublime blessing. Legalism is so sneaky and pervasive that one thing must be emphasized: it is not by giving to a needy brother that our being of the Truth is earned or secured. That’s backwards, from the pit of Hell, and smells like smoke. It’s God’s grace that elects us to be of one of His people of the Truth, it’s his grace that causes us to love the brethren, it’s His grace that empowers us to sacrificially give to meet the need of a brother, and it’s His grace that fuels the assurance of our heart that we belong to Him. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

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