The Heart that Matters Most

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People



“You see, it is only love for Christ that can defend the heart of the pastor against all the other loves that have the potential to kidnap his ministry.  It is only worship of Christ that has the power to protect him from all the seductive idols of ministry that will whisper in his ear.  It is only the glory of the risen Christ that will guard him against the self-glory that is a temptation to all who are in ministry and that destroys the ministry of so many. . . (p. 64)”

There are times when I wished the various temptations and idols Dr. Tripp referred to were not so easy to give myself to.  One of the things that make temptation and idols so enticing is their seemingly non-intrusiveness.  The ease with which one can give oneself to the counterfeit without it significantly disrupting one’s current lifestyle is what makes it so tempting.  It is easy to introduce without it derailing everything else.  That’s part of the allure and what keeps us going back and trying more and more idols.  I often think about the things I can or have gotten away with that only God knew about and the struggle to repent of those things and feel broken when no one else has seen.  I am amazed at how easy it is to keep up appearances when my heart is totally contrary to God’s will and standard of holiness.  In fact, my heart does a great job of convincing me that because things still look pristine on the outside that maybe what I did, thought, or felt wasn’t that bad.  It is interesting to see how easy we make the transition from believing if the outside of the cup is clean the inside must be too.

One of the most important marks of spiritual maturity and love for Christ is how well our private life matches our public.  Actually I would say because carrying oneself in the public eye is generally an easy undertaking, the believer should have the higher goal of pursuing holiness and Christ-like character that surpasses their public persona not just parallels it.  Much of where maturity and love for Jesus is really seen is behind closed doors.  The moral fluctuations of the heart and temptations of the flesh greatly outnumber the things people see on the outside.  That is why the heart is so important to our Lord.  It’s the place where the real you shows up the most.  Remember what God said to the prophet Samuel before he anointed David to be king, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  Or recall when Jesus was teaching his disciples not spend time praying and being generous in public but to remove themselves to a secluded location and pray, and in their giving to do so inconspicuously because that is how God rewards.  One of the most sobering and quite frightening statements that Jesus makes is where he says many will say “Lord, Lord” I did all these things in your name: preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons, etc.  And Jesus responds “depart from me because I never knew you.”  You see knowing Christ, I mean really knowing Christ, is more measured by our intimacy with the Lord and our private devotion including our thoughts, attitudes, and motives as well as our actions.  That is the application of the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength.  The first three people rarely see but it makes up three quarters of how we demonstrate our love for God.

 I don’t want to be that guy who stands before Christ and truly believes he is okay because I went to seminary, was a counselor, served as an elder at the church, and then Christ tear down my false reality and tell me that I really didn’t love him.  I encourage you and me both to do the hard work of loving Jesus more when no one is looking than anywhere else.


535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles