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Pastor Chuck Smith on the topic of Love

Don’t Choose Frustration

Although God made us to revolve around His axis, we crash-landed when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden. Ever since then, people naturally choose self-centered lives.  And what’s so wrong with that? Well, the Bible assures us that a self-centered life is destined for emptiness and frustration. In fact, the book of Ecclesiastes gives us a classic example of the problem of self-centeredness.

King Solomon lived a wildly self-centered life. He said, “Whatsoever my eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy.” He did everything for himself—and ended up with that plaintive cry, “Vanity, vanity,” or “Emptiness, emptiness, everything is empty and frustrating!” He did it all and he had it all. But because he centered his entire life around himself and his desires, by the end of his days he found life unfulfilling, disappointing, and eventually ended up as a bitter cynic.

You won’t find things any different if you live for yourself. When you get to the end of the road you will say, “It wasn’t worth it. Life is a mistake, a tragic mistake. It’s a farce. There’s no meaning nor purpose. I began as an accident and I’ll go out as an accident. And there’s no reason for my existence.” How empty! How futile! And if you wind up there, it will be because you placed yourself at the center of your life.

The only solution is to place God at the very center of your being. That’s what Jesus was getting at in urging us to love God with everything we are. “That’s the most important thing,” He says. “That’s primary. Get God at the center of your life and begin to enjoy a growing, loving relationship with Him.” Have you ever stopped to realize that the first four of the Ten Commandments all deal with your relationship with God? And as Jesus explained, each of those four can be summed up in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength—that is, giving the Lord your full and complete devotion. This shouldn’t be hard, should it? It sounds like the easiest thing in the world. And it really would be—if only we hadn’t all followed Adam and Eve straight into disobedience.

The problem is not with God’s command; the problem is with our rebellious hearts. And that means if we are ever to find our purpose and fulfill our divine design—and so enjoy God and His universe as He intends—then something has to be done about our hard hearts.

Leave it to a loving God to do exactly that!

You Need a New Heart

A fatally serious problem such as a dead, stony heart requires some serious intervention. And just as expected, we discover God had something big in mind from the very beginning. He first mentioned it in the brief, mysterious prophecy of Genesis 3:15, but began to unfold it much more clearly in the time of the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel lived in an age of rampant wickedness, even among his own countrymen. So spiritually dark had the little Hebrew kingdom grown that God announced He was about to destroy the nation through the vicious army of Babylon. There would be no escape, no reprieve. And yet, out of the gloom, a bright ray of hope broke through. Out of His own overflowing love, God promised His people something new: I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

The hearts of many of us have grown so hard against God that they’ve become like stone—untouchable, unmovable, without compassion. We have become so set in our sinful ways that we have no intention of changing for anyone. We greet all of God’s pleadings and entreaties with stony resistance. Hearts of stone! But God said He would exchange those stony hearts for hearts of flesh; soft and pliable hearts that could at last respond to God with all the love and devotion that He had designed for them. Just before Ezekiel began his prophetic ministry, Jeremiah prophesied of the day when God would no longer write His law on tablets of stone, but upon the fleshly tablets of a man’s heart. “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts,” God said, “and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:3-34; Hebrews 8:7-13). You see what God is really looking for; don’t you? He wants a meaningful, loving relationship with you. God doesn’t want a legal relationship with you. He has no interest in binding you to Himself through laws. He doesn’t want to chain you up. No! He wants a close relationship with you based upon love. He doesn’t want some outside law to force you to obey Him; He wants your love for Him to prompt your obedience.

By Pastor Chuck Smith

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