Throughout the Bible human beings are compared to sheep. Do you remember what one of the predominant characteristics of sheep is? They stray quite a bit. If left to our own devices and if we do not watch our hearts diligently, we, too, will always head the wrong way. It may take months or even years, but eventually our actions will follow the direction of our hearts. We will find every reason under the sun to justify our actions and choices until finally we are out of the battle, no longer serving or even following the Lord.
It does not matter how powerful and influential you are, how much education you have, how self-controlled or holy you consider yourself—your heart, if you do not guard it, will break down.
I have seen this principle played out too often in individuals’ lives and in the Church at large. Many churches have drifted from the heart of the One they call Lord and Master. Now, instead of making it a priority to rescue the lost millions of the world from a Christless eternity, their programs revolve around themselves. They put their own agenda—whether buildings or staff or special programs—as first priority in their budgets. Missions falls somewhere down the list.
Proverbs 24:11–12 warns us:
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
Our tendency as horizontally oriented humans is to forget the war going on behind the scenes and interpret everything in our lives through the filter of our five senses—what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Anything that has to do with these senses is our first approach to solving problems. Circumstances dictate how we feel and what we do. And we think in terms of ourselves rather than in terms of the purpose God has given us as believers. We have strayed from the focus of our hearts.
But we are not created for time. We are created for eternity. Our lives right now are little classrooms in which we are learning to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). And why did Jesus come into this world? What did He live for? “To seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Everything else in life becomes incidental when we gain this focus. Clothes, food, hairstyle, makeup, bank account, education, degrees, plans, ambition, spouse, children—none of these can possibly be the most important thing in life. The more we become like Christ, the more we, like Him, will make world evangelism the top priority in our lives.
I urge you to examine your own heart. Look at the things you do and the activities you are involved in for the sake of the Lord. Ask yourself honestly, Why am I doing this? Search your heart. Be real with yourself. In the normal course of human nature, things never improve. We begin to take the things of the Lord casually. We find all sorts of reasons why our thinking is correct and why we should justify ourselves and our behavior. And unless we allow the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts and minds continually, deterioration will set in. It is like putting sand into the gears of a machine. They still crank, but the grinding noise is constant, and the machine must work harder for anything to happen.
With the many needs and opportunities on the mission field, please do not let your involvement stop with “I’m doing the best I can.” As followers of Jesus, the things we do—whether praying, giving, sending or going—determine to a great extent what happens on the other side of the world. So I encourage you to search your heart. Is the passion still there? Is your heart broken?
No one can restore that freshness or passion for you. You must come before the Lord and allow Him to renew the focus of your heart.