In continuing to look at the hidden person of the heart let me share an obvious aspect of our culture. In our culture there is a strong propensity to shift responsibility anywhere except to ourselves. This is not just true in the dominant culture, it has deeply infected the church. However, Jesus tells us to look to our hearts. He has a different standard, one that calls us both higher and deeper at the same time. If we embrace pursuing His kingdom first (Matt. 6:33) then we will walk deeply in truth, integrity and responsibility. We will be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) and be a preserving and illuminating influence in our culture. We all know people like this and perhaps we are those people already.
If we are not like this I pray we would develop the attitude of Daniel.
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)
Other translations say Daniel “made up his mind’ or something similar but I believe that misses the heart of the verse. The primary meaning of the Hebrew word translated as ‘purposed’ means to ‘put’ or ‘set.’ Daniel set as a seal upon his heart an overriding principle that guided his decisions and thus his behaviour. There is the expression, ‘A man makes the decision and the decision makes the man.’ This speaks to the reality of what Daniel did.
Daniel was one of the greatest examples in scriptural history of being salt and light. What made him salt and light was how he stewarded internal realities. He made heart decisions that produced the amazing influence he had. If we had been able to gaze into Daniel’s internal reality we would have seen his character rooted in the character of Yahweh. As it was his internal reality was externally visible for time and eternity. As Francis Frangipane has put it.
“It is not hard to recognize one who has spent extended time at a newsstand: his conversation overflows with the drama of current affairs. And it is not hard to discern a person who has come from a sporting event, as their face reveals the outcome of the game. Likewise, people can tell when an individual has spent extended time seeking God. An imperturbable calm guards their heart, and their countenance is radiant with light, as with the morning dew of Heaven.”
What are we reflecting to others?