"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed." Ephesians 4:17-19
When you think about love, what do you think about? I guess I should be more specific. When you think about love, what shape do you think about? Valentine's Day is a big day across our world, and our candy makers prove what shape rules Valentine's Day, the day of love: the HEART! The heart is the universal symbol of love. Love is, or should be, a vital part of all our relationships. And love begins, love blossoms, and love blazes in the heart.
The apostle Paul knew that love would be the difference in the Christ follower. Love is the essential ingredient that God used to change life for the Christ follower. It begins with His love. John 3:16 says, "For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." God's love for is life-changing! And that life-change begins with the heart. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God said it this way: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Earlier in Ezekiel 11:19, God said, "I will give them an undivided heart." Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesians because they were being attacked. They were being attacked by their own pride, their own selfishness, their own hardened hearts. In the letter of Ephesians, Paul begins with the topic of love (Ephesians 1:4-6). He even ends the letter with love (Ephesians 6:23-24). And in between chapters one and six, Paul uses the noun and the verb form of love nearly twenty times! Godly love is the key to Christian living. When we trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God removes our old, hardened hearts, and He gives us a new heart, a heart of flesh filled with love. He gives us the desire to follow His decrees and to obey His laws. But if we are not careful, we will begin to fill our hearts with worldly things, with worldly desires. When our focus is not on God, it is on self, and that is dangerous. When we are focused on ourselves, our hearts begin to harden. And as our hearts begin to harden, we are filled with darkness, with ignorance, with impurity, and with greed. This way of life is not the way of life God has for us. This way of life causes conflict, pain, and disunity. As Christ followers, we must strive to live the life that God has for us. Eternal life doesn't begin in heaven; eternal life begins the moment you embrace Jesus as Savior. The life of love that God calls us to and equips us for begins in our hearts. If our hearts are not right, then our lives will not be right. Maybe that is why in Proverbs 4:23, Solomon said this to his sons: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."