“And Samuel said to the house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’” 1 Samuel 7:3
As I read this verse this morning, my thoughts are drawn toward what it is to “direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only.” As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” This isn’t a passive action. It’s a firm decision, a determination to fix your eyes and your heart and your mind on the God who is holy and righteous and faithful.
Our thoughts and emotions get so quickly distracted. We allow ourselves to dwell on that which is not good or pleasing to our Lord. Letting our thoughts dwell on that which is unrighteous never leads us to the right decision…it only lends us to weakness and likelihood for failure and sin.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:1-10).
This passage in Colossians 3 is a bit lengthy, but it’s vital for us to see the turning of our life. We have been raised with Christ, and our life is now hidden in Him—hidden in His glorious righteousness and light. So, in the strength of Almighty God and through our faith in Him, we decisively put to death everything that was in our life that does not speak of the glory and character and wisdom and goodness of our God. We cast off the old self which was pursuing darkness, and we put on the new self which rejoices in light and truth.
One line that stood out to me is that the new self “is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” It brings to mind 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” It is through our knowledge of Jesus Christ, through whom we know the Father and are filled with the Holy Spirit, that we receive His power to live in this new life of righteousness and hope.
So today, let us choose to direct our hearts, our minds, our will—all that we are—to the Lord and serve Him only. Not serving ourselves, not serving our passions, not serving our preferences or our own limited understanding. Serving Him. Guarding our heart with all vigilance. Putting off the old self and putting on the new, as our minds and hearts are renewed in the knowledge of Him and in firm belief in what He says.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”