The scriptures make it plain that the condition of our hearts matters most of all. Jesus gave a very significant answer to “a lawyer (who) stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Luke 10:25). Jesus answered his question with a question; ”What is written in the Law? How do you read it? And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself’”(verse 27).

Jesus commended him for his answer, but we should note that his answer came from the final exhortation Moses gave to the people before his death! (see Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:6). It is also valuable to note that from a similar passage in Matthew 19:16-22, there was one thing that young lawyer loved that undermined his awareness of the need for a correctly focused attitude of “love” – it was that he had “great possessions” – and he loved those too.

So, it is the effect that loving God has on all our attitudes, the other things we love, that matters. Now this was a contrast to the ‘cold’ feelings of the religious men who were jealous of Jesus. The lament of God in the Psalms comes to mind, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts …” (81:11,12).

We note the fleshly feelings that the Lord told Ezekiel to condemn, for chapter 14 starts, “Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me … and the word of the LORD came to me, ‘Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts…. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?’ … say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart … and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him … that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are estranged from me through their idols’” (verses 1-5).

God further says through Ezekiel, “For anyone … who separates himself from me, by taking his idols into his heart … and yet comes to a prophet to consult me … I will set my face against that man (or woman) …” (verses 7,8). We come to God’s word and read it for what reason, in what spirit of mind? Is not this parallel to a person coming to a prophet in those days – if their heart has the wrong attitude God will set His face against them. Finally, back to the lawyer, Jesus told him he had “answered correctly; this do and you will live” (verse 28). Let us do the same and serve our Lord with all our heart.