The Honest and Good Heart

Wheat

In the previous article we looked at the parable of the sower, noting the four different soils which represented four different types of hearts. Each one responded differently to the word when it was sown among them. Despite these differences, we saw that the message (the seed, the word of God) was not changed. Rather than trying to change the message, we should strive to develop the “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15) that Jesus said would be receptive to His saving gospel.

Jesus explained the illustration of the good soil: “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15). Let us be reminded of what the honest and good heart will do and how we can develop this type of heart.

What the Honest and Good Heart Will Do

Hear the word – “These are the ones who have heard the word…” An honest and good heart is interested in the truth. This was why Jesus called out at the conclusion of His parable, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8). The honest and good heart will be looking for answers to the great questions that man ponders regarding our origin, purpose, and future. These questions, when pursued honestly, will eventually lead one to God (Romans 1:20; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Acts 17:31).

Be Honest – “…heard the word in an honest…heart…” An honest and good heart will never blindly accept what is being taught, but will do as the Bereans did when they “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The honest and good heart will also examine himself upon hearing the truth to make sure he measures up (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Do What Is Right – “…good heart…” An honest and good heart will serve God completely. Those who obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost not only did what Peter told them to do immediately, but they also continued in the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:37-42). The honest and good heart will not serve God partially, as the rich young ruler did, following Him as long as it is convenient (Matthew 19:16-22). Instead, he will seek to do what is right in all things.

Hold Fast the Word – “…hold it fast…” Paul told Timothy to hold fast the pattern in faith (2 Timothy 1:13). This faith is the recognition that God’s way is always better than man’s way (1 Corinthians 1:25). The honest and good heart will hold fast the word without compromise, lest the truth be lost (Galatians 2:4-5).

Bear Fruit – “…bear fruit with perseverance.” Bearing fruit is done by doing good works (Colossians 1:10) and by following the teachings of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus said we will bear fruit one way or another – either good fruit or bad fruit (Matthew 7:17). Therefore, we must have that honest and good heart so that we might bear good fruit.

The Honest and Good Heart Must Be Developed

The type of heart we have has been trained to be the way it is. We can develop an evil heart if we follow the example of Pharaoh. He refused to listen to God and thus “hardened his heart” (Exodus 8:15). Paul warned of those who would become “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). This was done by choosing to listen to “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

In the same way, an honest and good heart can be developed, just as the son of the wicked man in Ezekiel 18 did. He observed his father’s ways and made the conscience decision that he would “not do likewise” (Ezekiel 18:14-17). This is the responsibility of both Christian and non-Christian – develop an honest and good heart so that we might respond properly to God’s word.

How to Develop an Honest and Good Heart

Exercise Humility – James wrote, “In humility, receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Without humility we cannot properly hear the word of God. We must recognize our insignificant place in God’s creation (Psalm 8:3-4). Why? So we know that only He can save us and that we cannot save ourselves apart from Him (Romans 5:6). We must also be humble enough to recognize that we can be wrong but that God is always right (Romans 3:4).

Love the Truth – Those who love the truth are the ones who will be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:10). To develop the honesty necessary to rightly examine the word and our own lives, we must have the attitude of the wise man: “Keep deception and lies far from me” (Proverbs 30:8). We should love the truth because the truth gives us a firm foundation (2 Peter 1:12) and an unchanging standard (2 John 6).

Seek to Practice What Is Right – Not only must we do what is right, but we must first have the desire to do what is right. God does not and will not force us to do anything. Throughout time, He has appealed to man: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Choosing to do good will help develop our hearts to be what they ought to be.

Recognize the Value of the Word – How can we be persuaded to hold fast the word if we do not first recognize the value of it? In describing the words of God, the psalmist wrote, “They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:10-11). The Scriptures are the inspired word of God and are profitable for us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) and contains the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Recognize Our Accountability Before God – We will each be judged by our actions (2 Corinthians 5:10). If we do not bear fruit, we will be cut off (John 15:2). But we are not just to bear fruit for a short period of time. We must do so “with perseverance” (Luke 8:15). As Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Conclusion

Do not wither away as the seed in the rocky soil (Luke 8:6). Do not let the word be choked out of your life by worldly things like the seed among the thorns (Luke 8:7). Instead, receive the word, believe it, follow it, grow in it, and continue to produce fruit that you might be rewarded as one of the faithful in the end.


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