Wednesday, 22 January 2014

It Starts with the Heart

I am quite confident that I am not the only one who finds talking about Jesus with non-Christians hard. I cannot be the only one who has sighed to themselves after an awkward conversation, “I wish I could be better at talking to people about Jesus. The words just don’t seem to come naturally to me.”

What is the solution? I could swat up on an outline of the gospel. I could spend time practicing clever answers to questions people ask. These are helpful and useful things to do. However, we need to start further back and deeper in than this.

We need to start with the heart.

We need to start here because our words flow out of our hearts. Jesus tells the Pharisees that “…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) The Pharisees have been spreading some nasty rumours about Jesus. They claim that He works by the power of the devil (verse 24). Jesus tells them that the reason they say such evil things is because their hearts are evil. They are like a diseased apple tree that will only produce rotten apples. The fruit of their mouths shows up the rot in their hearts.

What is in my heart will eventually bubble out through my lips. This means that what my heart delights in most, my lips speak about most. If my heart is in love with sport, then I am going to spend most of my time talking excitedly about the latest football scores. If I have a heart that is in love with something other than Jesus, then I’m going to struggle to speak naturally and excitedly about Him. However, if my heart is a heart that is beating with delight in the Lord Jesus, then this will bubble out through excited lips.

This means that when I want to get better at talking to my friend about Jesus, the first place I need to work on is my heart. I need to grow my heart in enjoying the truth of the gospel, and allow it to be shaped by the gospel. I need to take the truth of the Gospel and work it deep into the soil of my heart. As we do this we will slowly find the fruit of natural and excited gospel conversations begin to grow.

Here are some practical pointers to doing this heart work:

1) Pray, pray, pray. God is the heart surgeon. Changing our hearts from idol loving hearts to Jesus loving hearts is the work of His Spirit. Cry to Him to do this work because we cannot do it.

2) Feast yourself on the Word of God. The Bible is the surgical scalpel that God uses to do this heart work. It alone goes deep into the heart. The more deeply we soak ourselves in the Word, the more our hearts will be growing to delight in Jesus, and the more naturally we will speak about Him

3) Encourage one another regularly with Bible truth. God has given us one another as fellow labourers in this work.

Now, I need to warn you. Heart work is hard work. It’s a daily slog. Keep at it, because it is the best type of work.