Earlier this year, I shared my desire to get to the root of my anger and phone addiction. I shared how these behaviors were actually symptoms of a deeper problem, and that to solve those issues I needed more than a New Year’s resolution. I needed a heart like Christ’s.
Many of you raised your hands and said you too, long to grow more deeply into Christ- to think, feel, and act more like Him. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to envision a tribe of women dedicating themselves to becoming more like Christ! This is the will of God for our lives, after all!
But I could sense an underlying frustration as well. There is a sense that, while we have heard the terms “sanctification” and “spiritual formation” we are largely at a loss of what those things look like in our day-to-day lives. They feel lofty and unattainable. This is the frustration I most want to address through this year-long blog series. I want to help us understand what it actually looks like to cultivate a faithful heart amid a frenzied world.
The Anatomy of a Faithful Heart
Let’s start by understanding what a faithful heart looks like. It turns out this one little word holds within it three different meanings. Amazingly, each of these aspects can be applied to our relationship with God.
A Faithful Heart is Loyal: When I think of being faithful, say, within a marriage, I picture dedication, undivided love, and being singly focused on your spouse. The same can be said of with our relationship with God. As we cultivate a faithful heart, we will become more fully His, singly devoted to Him. All of our idols, including our own will and comfort, will fall to the wayside as His Word and the Holy Spirit teach us to be faithful to Him and Him alone.
A Faithful Heart is Constant: In the Bible, we most often think of God’s faithfulness in terms of His reliability. His Word never changes (Num 23:19), His love never fails us (1 Cor 13:8), His Spirit never forsakes us (Deut. 31:6). He is always there, ready to answer our call (Psalm 86:7). As humans, we may never learn to be faithful to God the way He is faithful to us. Not on this side of heaven. But as we dive deeper into His Word and as we get to know Him better, we will find our hearts waiver less and less. We can cultivate a steadfast heart amid the frenzy of this world, but only if we lean into the God who was first faithful to us.
Faithful Heart is True: This may be my favorite meaning for the word faithful. While attending a leadership conference this past September, the speaker spoke of the importance of being a “credible witness”. She was teaching from Proverbs 21:28, which says, “A false witness will be cut off, but a credible witness will be allowed to speak.” (NLT). She called us, as leaders and teachers, to seek to be credible witnesses of Christ.
This means being a true copy- so when someone looks at me, they see a true picture of Christ, not a distortion. Now, this is a terrifying prospect in reality. I know that as I stand today I am not a true representation of Christ. There are glimpses of Him in me, to be sure. But I am a work in progress, and I will be until I die. But my desire is to be a faithful copy of Christ- true to His Character, to His love, and to His Word.
More than Just Faithful
While these three aspects of a faithful heart first captured my imagination, I have come to see that a heart like His is so much more than just faithful. It is also loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, and self-controlled. Do those sound familiar? Yup- they are the fruits of the Spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22-23.
Because Jesus remained fully-God when he became fully man, He possessed each of the fruits the Holy Spirit brings to bear in our lives as believers. So, as we cultivate a faithful heart, we will simultaneously cultivate a fruitful heart. We are also going to talk about humility and community- two things Christ exhibits throughout His time on Earth.
What I Mean When I Say “Cultivate”
Now we know what a faithful heart looks like, but what does it mean to “cultivate” one? Simply put, it means to actively engage in the process of sanctification (the life-long processes of becoming more like Christ). When I first heard of sanctification, I imagined the Holy Spirit, sitting in my heart with a piece of sandpaper, smoothing out my rough edges while I went about my daily business.
While this is a common understanding, it is an inaccurate one. Sanctification is most certainly a work initiated and completed by the Holy Spirit; however, we have a part to play in it as well. I love the way Wayne Grudem explains this in his book, Systematic Theology:
“The role that we play in sanctification is both a passive one, in which we depend on God to sanctify us and an active one in which we strive to obey God and take steps that will increase our sanctification…If we neglect active striving to obey God, we become passive, lazy Christians. If we neglective the passive role of trusting God and yielding to him, we become proud and overly confident in ourselves…we must maintain faith and diligence to obey at the same time”. (pgs 754-755)
When I call us to cultivate a faithful heart, I am encouraging us to co-labor in this process with and through the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, this means identifying and uprooting misconceptions we have about God and His Word. It means agreeing with and taking in God’s Word. And it means yielding our hearts, minds, and will to Christ. By doing these things, we create a space for the Lord to work in our lives; to cultivate within us a more faithful heart.
Are You In?
Ok- that was a lot! But if you long to be a part of this adventure, then this is me, inviting you to jump in. Let’s do this together. Let’s learn what it means to live as Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Each month in 2019 I will send my subscribers a seven-day study on a new aspect of a faithful heart. If you would like to receive those studies, fill out the form below and confirm your subscription. I hope to see you there!