A Matter of the Heart

24 04 2010

Installment 6  (and final installment) from my episode with the police…

When I was pulled over; it was justified because I broke the law. But, I didn’t mean to break the law. Does that matter? Sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no.”

For example, if you “break the law” of gravity it really doesn’t matter if you meant to… the consequence will be certain and painful. If you “break the law” of decorum by accidently spilling your water into the lap of someone at your table; you probably won’t be kicked out of the restaurant. On the other hand, if you get angry and willfully throw your water into the face of someone at your table; you may find yourself escorted to the street. In both cases the effect was the same, a wet table mate. But, the fundamental difference is in the intent of your heart.

As I have already illustrated; the intent of someones heart has no bearing if they break the laws of physics. And it is dependent on the particular law enforcer and their scope of authority as to whether or not the intent of our hearts will help  with our criminal offense. What about in the realm of morality? What about sin?

Does God view sin differently when we willfully disobey as contrasted to when we make honest mistakes?

I know I do. I get more angry at the habitual, unrepentant (insert error here) than I do at someone who might not know better. But does God? Does God view the mistake differently than open defiance? I don’t know that I have an answer specifically, but I have some inferences and observations.

(Quick aside, on the most fundamental level if a person were to never reject sin and trust Jesus work on the cross for their rescue then God will let them have their way. They will get the punishment that sin requires. On the other hand, when you trust Jesus you are believing that HE has received the punishment that sin deserved and you are made new. On that level God absolutely treats “open defiance” differently than humility. One represents rejecting Jesus and the other represents believing Him. But this blog isn’t addressing that specifically; I am referring to Earthly consequences in this blog, not eternal redemption).

First off, sin is sin and the “wages of sin is death.” No qualification about heart intent.

Secondly, while I cannot state absolutely that our heart’s bent in the midst of sin has bearing on our consequences. I can say absolutely that our heart’s bent in the wake of our sin has bearing on the direction of our life.

When David was confronted about his sin, his heart’s response was contrition and longing for holiness. (confronted) (contrition)

When the rich young ruler was confronted about his sin, his heart’s response was rigidity and longing for self. (sell it)

One man trusted our loving God and turned to Him. One man trusted in himself and turned away from God.

Might the consequences of a mistake be lesser than those of outright defiance… maybe?

Will the impact of that mistake be different based on your heart’s response when it comes to light… absolutely!

We are making mistakes in our lives that we aren’t even aware of.

Hurting people unknowingly.
Making errors we might have never thought twice about.

Happens all the time. So is the issue our intent when it occurs? I don’t think so. Do you think if you lost a loved one due to another’s honest mistake that you would feel less pain? Of course not.

But would you find forgiveness easier if you were looking at a broken person responsible for your pain vs. looking at a calloused one? I would like to think so. The key is a contrite heart.

David sinned in outright defiance, yet is known as a “man after God’s own heart.” The “rich young ruler” kept all the laws but was sinning in a way he didn’t realize, yet he “went away sad.” Their standing with God didn’t hang on their hearts bent in sin, it rested with their hearts bent in response sin.

I hope that I respond like David. What about you?