What is your motivation to live out your faith day to day?
Six centuries before Christ, Jerimiah announced God’s intention to make a new covenant that Jesus later inaugurated with his passion, death and resurrection.
“’The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel …It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…I will put my law on their minds and write it on their hearts.’” (Jerimiah 31:31-33)
God is changing his writing materials. This new covenant will differ from God’s earlier covenant in that it will not be written on tablets of stone but on people’s hearts. While writing on stone can last a long time, it can still wear and fade just like the grave markers in an old cemetery. Writing on the heart can last forever.
There is another difference. What is written on the heart is done so with the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit not only imparts knowledge of right and wrong, it also provides the desire to do the right thing. No longer are we trying to comply with the law based only upon our human will, but out of our love for God and the power and strength provided by the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.
While compliance of the law may be encouraged by punitive consequences, compliance is better assured when the love of God and the desire to do the right thing is written on our hearts.
Many ethics programs in business, government and the professions fail because they are based only upon rules and consequences, rather than a heart desire to do the right thing out of the love of God. The decision to comply then becomes an evaluation of the risk of consequences vs. the benefits of noncompliance. There is no motivation of the heart.
This past Sunday, we remembered the 15th anniversary of September 11, when terrorists seized airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. A number of the victims included first responders and others who gave their lives trying to rescue and assist others. Their actions resulted from decisions of the heart on which God had inscribed his commandment of love.
Jesus affirmed all of this when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Heart, soul, mind and strength are not made of stone, which can wear and fade, but are aspects of our inner being created by God which we will take with us to eternity.