Holy Asides
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November 16, 2016, 12:00 AM

Being Careful About Your Heart

“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 NIV

Each Thursday at our McDonald’s Men’s Morning Bible Study, we examine and discuss the upcoming Gospel lesson for Sunday. Sometimes we read a little bit further, as we did last week. The above verse follows the passage that was read as the Gospel last Sunday. I want to offer a brief reflection of this verse, especially in light of the Bishop’s sermon this past week. As a general overview of the passage, Jesus is warning the disciples that the Temple and Jerusalem will be overthrown. Basically, Jesus is saying that there will be false prophets, wars, revolutions, famine, arrests and imprisonments, but to not lose heart for the Kingdom of God is greater than all of this. 

Bishop Wright preached a similar sermon in light of this passage and the election: whether we are elated or deflated about the election, we are all just passing through time. The Kingdom of God is greater, and our work is not done. Our work is that of “loving like Jesus.” The interesting thing about love is that it is a command of freedom and of unlimited boundaries. Unlike the Law, which speaks of things we should not do, Love opens up a world of potential. The Law says, we are not to steal from or covet our neighbor’s possessions. In many ways that is quite simple. But, what does it mean to love our neighbor? Watering their plants, cooking them dinner, feeding their dog, babysitting their kids, mowing their lawn…the possibilities are endless. 

This verse is in a similar vain. Jesus tells us to be careful, watchful, or to guard our hearts, depending on the translation; otherwise we may fall into behaviors which detract and distract from the Kingdom of God. We will squander wealth and resources; we will become drunk or gluttonous; we will experience deep anxiety about the cares of the world. What is interesting is that generally the focal point of the application of this verse comes across as the Law. “Thou shalt not become drunk.” “Thou shalt not waste wealth.” “Thou shalt not be anxious.” However, this is not the point that Jesus is emphasizing. We are called to be careful so our hearts are not weighed down. Clearly, this is much more difficult to define. How do we go about this? It is much easier to follow a few rules of what not to do, than it is to embrace the challenge of discerning how we stay tapped into the love and grace of God.

This is partly because it is different for everyone, in the same way that demonstrating love is different for everyone. So, some may guard their hearts from being weighed down through prayer and praise; others by serving in the community; others through giving generously and cheerfully; and still others through worship and study. There are an endless array of ways to “be careful”, but primarily the most important way, like love, is not to dwell on the results of “not being careful,” rather, it is to seek after those things that lift our hearts to the Lord.

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