When we talk about God laying something on our hearts, I think of Ezra 1:5 where God moved, or stirred, the hearts of some of the exiled Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of the Lord. The ones who went had some sort of inward compulsion or prompting from God in their spirits to go. In a previous post we pulled out some principles about serving from that verse. An observation was made in a comment about how some Christians claim God laid something on their hearts but then “do an about face.” How do we know if it was God who laid it on our hearts or something else?
Overused Christian Jargon
I do agree that the use of the phrase “God laid it on my heart …” can be overused and even misused. It can get confusing when people insist on God’s moving and then don’t follow through or if they do but things go obviously wrong. Let’s remember that God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
We, as Christians, need to be careful of the words we use and we also need to be careful with being so emphatic in how we express ourselves that it paints us into a corner of having to justify ourselves, and even worse, trying to justify God, like He is to blame.
Sometimes Misused Christian Jargon
To be sure, there is a very real sense in which God, through His Spirit, moves or stirs our hearts. Think of Jesus’ words in John 10:4-5 — “His sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Yet, sometimes when we Christians say “God has laid it on my heart to ….”, we would be better saying the following:
This is what I feel comfortable doing.
This is what I want to do.
This is what I think I should do.
This is what I feel like I am expected to do.
These words, “God laid it on my heart,” could moreso reflect our personalities, our own will, feelings, desires, or thought processes. Sometimes they might even stem from the culture of the church or ministry of which we are a part.
We might have good intentions and be sincere but the influence of self and others can be ever so subtle that we think it is of God but isn’t. We will be more likely to get it right when we realize the influence God’s Word must have that supersedes the pull of ourselves or others.
A Connection Between God Laying Something on Our Hearts & His Written Word:
- God will never contradict His Word. If what you think God has laid on your heart doesn’t line up with God’s Word, He is not the source of what you want to do. It must be consistent with the commands and principles found in the Bible as well as the character and ways of God as described in His Word (2 Tim. 2:13).
- If we are not regularly spending time with God in His Word, we better not trust our perceptions of what we think He has laid on our hearts. Jesus said His sheep know His voice so well that they can differentiate His voice from others (Jn. 10:4-5). How are we going to get to know His voice above all, including our own, if we do not spend time with Him in His Word?
- Discernment comes through the “constant use” of God’s Word, chewing on the meat of what we read (Heb. 5:14). A casual and inconsistent approach to God’s Word that stays on the surface will not bring the spiritual maturity needed to differentiate between what He has laid on our hearts and what our own feelings, desires, or thought processes dictate.