GUARD YOUR HEART
Our blessings come from God. The source of our jobs, roof over our heads, food on the table, education for our kids, is God. God had blessed Ananias and Saphira with their property, and yet they lied to God. They failed to guard their hearts against two idolatrous desires - covetousness or greed and self-exaltation or pride.
Pride or self-exaltation
The sin is not that they didn’t give all, but that they lied in their giving. Ananias and Saphira wanted to look more generous and more holy than they really were. They wanted to be elevated and to be exalted by their fellow men.
We all struggle with, and need to guard our hearts from, self-exaltation. This idolatrous desire to elevate the self is a heart issue and is not easily seen by others, but God sees and knows our hearts as the apostles prayed in Acts 1:24 “O Lord, you know every heart.”
Ananias and Saphira had a strong attachment to money or material things and kept part of the proceeds for themselves. Today, when we give of our first fruits to the Lord, when we give our tithes or offerings, do we give wholeheartedly or cheerfully?
Some of you may be wondering why you are struggling financially. Study 2Corinthians 9:6-7 carefully and do a heart check. Why do you sow sparingly? What’s stopping you? Why do you give but not cheerfully? Always remember that God looks at the heart and He delights in those who give cheerfully.
We must be on guard that we do not make idols out of these good things that God has blessed us with (Luke 12:15). Anything that replaces the one, true God is an idol. Ultimately, idolatry is a matter of the heart involving self-centeredness, pride, greed or covetousness, or intense love of money and possessions.
How can we guard our hearts against the deceitfulness of sins such as self-exaltation or pride and covetousness?
Guard your mind with the truth of God’s Word.
How is the heart associated with the mind? In Luke 2:19, in the midst of her difficulties, Mary kept in her heart the knowledge from what the Shepherds shared with her and Joseph that the baby she was caring for is the Messiah. Mary felt peace and joy in thinking about it often.
What we expose our minds to shape our hearts. So it is important that we fill our minds with the truth of God’s word.
When something comes to your mind, do not assume right away that it is true.
Just because it comes from within you, it does not mean that it is true. Some of the things that permeate our minds may be influenced by Satan or this world.
In the case of Ananias in Acts 5:3, Peter asked him why he let Satan influence his thinking.
Our minds are so intricately linked to our heart. That which you are thinking often will control your life. So, what is it that you are thinking often?
Do not fill your mind with garbage.
It is helpful to remember Prov. 15:14 “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash”. If we spend countless hours on Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and other social media, how do you think our mind is being shaped? The world is in rebellion against God – his ways, his precepts. That is why Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, exhorted them to bring every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Romans 12:2a warns us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Yield control of your heart to the Holy Spirit.
In the OT, God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel that he would give His people a new heart and new spirit that will lead to a new life. He also promised the empowering of the Spirit to do His Word so that they may continually experience his protection, provision, and care in keeping what He commands (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
This promise was fulfilled through the coming of His Son Jesus Christ. It is time that we stop putting trash into our minds and let God’s Word dwell in it so that we can start to experience the full and meaningful life that Jesus promised in John 10:10.
Read Matthew 23:12 and Luke 12:15. The Bible clearly warns us against self-exaltation (pride) and greed. Name areas in your life (e.g. work/business, ministry, home, etc.) where you are susceptible to give in to pride and greed? (These are areas where you can be tempted to see yourself as important, or where you can be tempted to place your value in, or where you have the opportunity to move up in title/prestige or accumulate more material things, etc.)
Read Romans 12:2a and Proverbs 15:14. Examine how you spend your time daily. What habits have you developed? Have you developed the habit of regularly reading, meditating, studying, obeying the Scriptures? What non beneficial habits can you give up in order to be more effective in guarding your heart by guarding your mind?
Read Ephesians 5:18 and Ephesians 4:30. What are God’s commands in regards to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives? Aside from dwelling richly in God's Word, why do we need the Holy Spirit?
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