Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 15:8 (Isaiah 29:13) “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.”

Matthew 15:16-20 “Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

Matthew 22:37 (Deuteronomy 6:5) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

As we grow more spiritually mature, our perspective on spirituality changes. When we are first converted, we commonly link spirituality totally with behavior. Most of those links are with ‘what we do not do.’ Quite often righteousness is defined in terms of ‘what we are not.’ For example, “We don’t drink! We don’t lust! We don’t curse! We don’t steal!” [Certainly, these thoughts in no way encourage drunkenness, lusting, cursing, or stealing!] It is all about the Christian controlling his/her behavior and the community of Christians controlling the behavior of all in it. Faithfulness is reduced to (1) identifying the correct hurdles and (2) jumping over them. If we are not careful, this concept of control extends from the individual to the congregation, from the congregation to our segment of society, from our segment of society to our entire culture, and from our entire culture to the whole world.

At some point in the spiritual maturing process, we hopefully realize that the foundation of spiritual maturity is a deep faith in God. The companion awareness is that one can yield to human control without any faith in God. Thus if one ‘does’ the expected routines, he/she is ‘in’. He/she does not have to have an abiding faith in God. He/she just has to conform to human external controls.

Thus when serious sickness attacks the family, or financial reverses visit the person, or any form of hardship befalls him/her, life falls apart. Confidence was in a routine, not in God. Hope was in protection from adversity, not in the strength to face adversity. That which threatens life or makes us physically miserable becomes a desperate clinging to the physical rather than a transition to a superior eternal. The comfort was in conformity, not in God who gave us Jesus Christ.

Spiritual maturity is found in expressing faith through behavior, not in substituting behavior for faith. Does the way you live reveal your faith?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 29 June 2006

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