A Hard, Promising, Merciful Commandment

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he he will cast you off forever.

-1 Chronicles 28:9

Sometimes, it’s easier to care for someone than to care about them. By that I mean, when we feel no affection for certain people, it is easier to do something for them than to feel something for them. In fact, we sometimes believe that we cannot change how we feel.

This is problematic, considering none of us really feel the affection for God that such a good and holy God deserves. Because of this, it can be intimidating to hear that God searches hearts and understands every plan and thought. I go to church. I do devotions. I try not to lie or cheat, but these alone don’t fulfill the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I sometimes wish I could trick God by my behavior into believing that I’ve fulfilled this command, but I haven’t, and God knows it.

David’s command here can seem heavy. “Serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind.” He’s asking Solomon to dig much deeper than changing some of his behavior. He’s asking Solomon to take on a less conquerable task. It seems like hard advice, but it’s also a promising and merciful command.

God’s desire for our hearts is promising because our love steers our life. If we start by learning to love God, our love for God can change our loving and our living, our present and our future. Jonathan Edwards wisely said,

That which men love they desire to have and to be united to, and possessed of. That beauty which men delight in, they desire to be adorned with. Those acts which men delight in, they necessarily incline to do.

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (Banner of Truth, 1994), p.317

God’s desire for our hearts is merciful, because it gives us the chance to please God today. Despite what culture says, there is such a thing as “too late.” It’s too late for me to be a doctor. Someday it will be too late for me to have been a perfect dad. However, it is never too late for me to please the God who sees my heart for what it is. My heart may always be disordered, but if I turn to and trust Him with an honest heart, I don’t have to convince Him–He knows, and He is pleased..

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

-Psalm 51:17

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About Alex Kato

Born and raised in Seattle, my wife Annie and I first left town so I could attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. We now live in New Jersey, where I am working on a PhD in homiletics (the study of preaching) at Princeton Theological Seminary. I love to converse, preach, read, write, and teach. Someday I hope to serve Jesus Christ's Church through both preaching and teaching preaching.
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