This is the second week of our four week series we are calling “Labor in the Lord.” We hear in the writing of Paul, that in the Lord our Labor is never in vain. It may seem what we do for God is not accomplishing anything, or we are not convincing people to become a disciple, or perhaps we think when we serve we are not making anything better. But when our labor is done in the name of the Lord there are always benefits. On our own we can do very little, but when we labor in the name of the Lord, God will accomplish much through what we are doing.
Last week we used the Sunday readings to reflect on laboring for the Lord with a context of the least are made worthy. We may never feel ready, or adequate to be a laborer in the Lord, however God makes us ready. There is nothing God will give us to do that requires more than we are able to accomplish.
This week we look at how we are challenged to speak well from the heart. We are rooted, bearing fruit, sustaining faith with a righteous attitude. We must be rooted to receive living water, bear the fruit of the Spirit, and to sustain life. We sustain faith knowing Jesus provides new life, and with a good attitude our heart speaks well. We see in the readings a transforming message to be led by our heart so that we may do all we can for God.We see in the readings a transforming message to be led by our heart so that we may do all we can for God. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; 1 Corinthians 15:16-20 and Luke 6:17, 20-26. These readings guide us this week to look at how we allow our heart to be formed. We must have good roots, faith and the right attitude. Then when we speak from the heart, we are trusted to speak well for God.
The reading from Jeremiah speaks about a tree being well rooted. To be well-rooted the tree must be well-watered, it bears good fruit and it sustains life. We can consider the disciple who has deep roots in Jesus. The disciple draws on the living water of Christ, they bear good fruit, such as the fruit we receive from the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). Also the disciple sustains life, they do not fade away. These attributes describe a righteous disciple, one with a heart that leads them to God, the will of God. The good roots of a disciple start within their heart inclined toward God. The disciple speaks well from their heart. In all their labor they lead from the heart and thus labor for the Lord. The Lord knows our heart and knows when we trust in the Lord. Being a disciple whose heart is “rooted” in God we are able to speak well from our heart, with our works, and our life.
In the second reading from First Corinthians we read Paul’s faith that Christ has been raised from dead and is the first fruits of those who have been resurrected. Faith is required for the belief that Christ has been raised and sin has been removed. Paul refers back to the law for context. The Israelite’s would bring their first bundle of the harvest to the priest so that it may be accepted by God. The priest waving the bundle of the first fruits of the harvest before the Lord as a sign that the entire harvest belongs to God. Jesus resurrection from the dead (he is the first fruits) is an assurance that we also will be raised and belong to God. (see Leviticus 23:9-14) In this way God demonstrates his love and desire for us. We respond by our faith in the resurrection, again something that must be rooted in our heart. Eternal life is the ultimate act of Jesus life, to believe in him we must believe in his resurrection, it must be fully in our heart. God who knows our heart knows we can speak of this raising with confidence and as a labor for our Lord. Always what is in our heart is how we are led. To be faithful we must have a heart filled with faith, ready to speak well and demonstrate through our life all that we believe.
In the gospel passage from Luke we read the Sermon on the Plain, Luke’s version of the beatitudes, or blessings. Jesus explains that a blessed life comes not from receiving or doing but from being. The emphasis of what Jesus is teaching is a focus on our attitude. The individual blessings teach us to look at our circumstances and consider how to respond in specific situations; when we are hunger, when we are sad, when we are hated, and also how to respond when our attitude is selfish; when we don’t share riches, when we seek only our own joy, when we seek the platitudes of others. Jesus teaches that what is essential for true happiness; faith in God, love toward others, honesty with ourselves and obedience toward God. These attitudes must be rooted in our heart. Attitudes are not an act, not something we do once a week. These attitudes are part of who we are and permeate our entire being, led first by this rootedness in our heart. With these attitudes we speak well from our heart and they of course show through our labor for the Lord. Our good attitude glorifies God though works and our life. As we become more and more deepened in our heart our love for God can do nothing but point to God as our number one in our life, showing all who see us that our lover is beautiful and that our hearts would be broken without him.
This common thread through these three readings is our being rooted for God. We lead with our heart, its drives who we are and what we do. If our heart is for God than all we do will follow God. We we speak from our heart we tell of God who counts on us to bring fruit to all, to have faith in the resurrection and to have an attitude that makes us appear God like. When our heart leads us our life speaks of God whose is our glory. All our labor is used for the Lord and will be transformed into a message that others can see and hear making room for them to be transformed themselves. With a heart speaking well and inclined toward God’s labor the vineyard will bear plenty of fruit!This common thread through these three readings is our being rooted for God. We lead with our heart, its drives who we are and what we do. If our heart is for God than all we do will follow God. Click To Tweet
Speak well from the heart
Whenever we read God knowing us in scripture it is God looking into our heart. We can read many places God knowing the thinking in our hearts, the reasoning in our hearts, the secrets of our hearts. For God it is the heart that is the place where we are most defined. God knows us by knowing our hearts. God knows that what is in our heart is what leads our actions. What we believe in our heart is what will motivate us, if we have a dream that is deep in our heart we will likely work toward that dream. It is the heart that leads the individual.
Therefore we can say the heart is the definition of who we are as a person. The qualities we attribute to the heart are; unconditional love, compassion, empathy, care, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, patience, acceptance, cooperation, presence, peace, joy, acceptance and many more. But, there are darker attributes that can be qualities of the heart; lies, misleading, denying reality, immorality, impurity, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, fury, selfishness, envy, pride, and many others. Such many things can impact the heart. It is sort of amazing that so many attributes can be aligned with the heart.
The heart is so very important to train and protect properly. It is clear what gets to the heart can have a great impact on our life. It is the place where God looks to see who we really are and what we believe. Training the heart, forming healthy habits should be a daily activity. To do the things that will bolster the good qualities of the heart should be a priority. So what can we do?The heart is so very important to train and protect properly. It is clear what gets to the heart can have a great impact on our life. Click To Tweet
We begin to realize in these heart discussions that what comes from the inside is what really matters. We can be distracted, not paying attention to what we see, hear and feel. This can allow anything unwanted to get planted in our thinking which can eventually impact our heart.
One way I am impacted is when I am working with someone who doesn’t seem to respect me, or uses inappropriate ways to get their way, like off handed comments, a passive aggressive approach that is meant to impact me. These kind of work interactions can be common. We are put into relationships at work that we would not always choose. When we are focused on someone who is hurting us in this way, our heart can be hardened, we may even move to hating the person who is impacting us. Certainly this is something we want to avoid. Perhaps you can speak to the person and things could change. But if you don’t trust a conversation then maybe it is best to change your work. This may seem drastic, but how you feel, especially in those things that that impact your heart life is important. If you are making the move to be closer to God, your trust in God should make it so all things will be okay for you. In other words to change your work to be sure your heart remains good is likely something God will support and aid you in your new adventure. Trust God.
Another way I am impacted is by all distractions, technology is big. Social media, text messaging, just checking on what is trending or happening can be a constant distraction. We have become a multitasking people, which means we are doing several things at once. Is this good for the heart? With all these distractions how can we be sure what is getting into our head and eventually our heart? Maybe you need to take a technology fast, have moments in the day when you turn it all off and be alone with your thoughts. Or take time to pray, to focus on your relationship with God. Maybe there is someone in your life you love; a spouse or child that could really use your undivided attention not only to be with them but to be an example of putting all the distractions away for big moments in the day.Another way I am impacted is by all distractions, technology is big. Social media, text messaging, just checking on what is trending or happening can be a constant distraction Click To Tweet
Maybe like me you have some bad habits, that have become habits unconsciously. For example maybe you like to sleep late, or eat too much, maybe you drink alcohol more than you should, maybe you view things on the internet that are not good for you heart. There are many things that could distract and impact who we are. Try to do something about at least one bad habit. Maybe try not to eat between meals. Or avoid some food item you over indulge (I could make a half gallon of ice cream disappear in one sitting.) Use the internet in the family room only when others are around. Get up early and do something productive; go for a walk, say some prayers, read the word of God. Convert a bad habit into something that will bolster your heart’s good qualities. Going forward make sure you are not doing something automatically, think consciously about what is become a habit, impacting who you are and your heart.Convert a bad habit into something that will bolster your heart’s good qualities. Going forward make sure you are not doing something automatically, think consciously about what is become a habit, impacting who you are and your heart. Click To Tweet
Maybe like me your quiet time includes incessant internal chatter. You mind is always going, thinking about something you wish you did differently, or running through some dream, or just going over some great time you had and reliving each moment. All this thinking can be a means of escape, keeping you from being present and living in the present moment. Try to let this inner chatter go. Don’t let is get stuck in your mind. Even if something isn’t real, if you think about it so much it will have an impact on your heart. Suppose you said something rude to someone and you wonder if you should apologize, you just keep thinking about the bad remark. This will have a way of darkening your heart. We all say things we regret but we should not let these things create their own life in our thoughts. When something like this comes into your mind, let it go. Do let your mind continue to think about it, force it out and think of something else. Let thoughts move through your mind when your mind gets chattering. Recognize the thoughts you want to push out, take control of your mind space and thus block distracting thoughts from impacting your heart.Let thoughts move through your mind when your mind gets chattering. Recognize the thoughts you want to push out, take control of your mind space and thus block distracting thoughts from impacting your heart. Click To Tweet
As much as possible focus on God. Use as much time as possible in prayer or in conversation with God. Ask God to take control, of the people, the technology, your habits and your thinking so that you are receiving God’s direction for your life and ultimately being impacted by God in your heart. We are led by the heart. When our heart is with God we can speak from our heart and not be concerned about what we say or who will hear. Speaking well from the heart is what God wants for our life.As much as possible focus on God. Use as much time as possible in prayer or in conversation with God. Click To Tweet
Labor in the Lord
God needs our labor. God depends on us to fulfill his plan. It is through our heart that we are led, we can speak well from our heart or we can speak from a dark heart. Our joy or sadness is a product of how we cultivate our heart. Do the things that will bring joy to your life and thus to the lives of those around you. God needs us to speak well from our heart. Then no matter how we labor, God will be able to use if for good. God needs good people with good hearts to lead others to himself. We may be the only follower of God someone ever meets. They should meet someone with a loving heart. They should be attracted to who we are so we can point them to God who is the most attractive. Speak well from your heart and let your labor be for God.God needs our labor. God depends on us to fulfill his plan. It is through our heart that we are led, we can speak well from our heart or we can speak from a dark heart. Click To Tweet