I don’t know how you get dressed in the morning, but I start with a clean pair of socks. I like to get up before everyone else in the house, so I typically tiptoe over to the sock drawer in the dark and pull out a matched pair. (That’s easy! All my socks are the same brand, black, and matching.) Then the challenge is finding something to go with them: the jeans on the back of the chair and a clean shirt from the closet. The surprise comes when I turn on the hall light and discover what I’m wearing to the study today!
After telling the Colossian Christians to “strip off” (3: 9) “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (3:8), the Apostle Paul tells them to “put on the new self” (3:10). That includes: “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (3:12). There are five virtues there – one for every day of the week. Since today is Monday, let’s start with “compassionate hearts” (σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ).
John Wycliffe translated the first English Bible. He called our first virtue: “entrailis of merci.” The King James Version altered that a little to “bowels of mercy.” This was in keeping with the belief that attached emotions to the various organs in our bodies. Moderns do the same thing when talking about the heart being the “seat and center of love.” The New Testament talks about various “heart” conditions.
Let’s begin by looking at “calloused hearts” (Matthew 13:15; 19:8; Acts 28:27; Hebrews 3:8; 4:7). Hard hearts will keep us from understanding the Gospel (Mark 8:17; 2 Corinthians 3:15; Ephesians 4:18). How do you know if your heart is in trouble? Jesus warns, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap” (Luke 21:34).
Here are two simple, biblical tests for spiritual heart problems. First, pay attention to what is coming out of your mouth, for “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Your tongue will betray you if your heart is full of bitterness and anger!
Second, monitor your thoughts. Beware of “stinking’ thinking’.” Jesus explained, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). When I was teaching rock climbing, I encouraged my students to visualize themselves moving from one hold to the next before trying it. It’s always easier to do something the second time around. Likewise, if we fantasize about sin or daydream about things we shouldn’t, it shouldn’t surprise us if we fall into those sins! So pay attention to your thoughts!
Paul told young Timothy, “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
Don’t be surprised by what you’re wearing today. Turn on the light while you’re getting dressed!