I recently came across a quote from East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux as he talked about the horrific killing of police officers in Baton Rouge earlier this month.
Remember that? Sadly, there have been so many acts of violence both around the world and in our own country, that we’ve pushed to the back page this terrible attack.
In response to a question regarding gun control the Sheriff made this important and pertinent observation.
“To me,” Gautreaux said, “this is not so much about gun control as it is about what’s in men’s hearts. And until we come together as a nation, as a people, to heal as a people, if we don’t do that and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people.”
Gautreaux’s insight is a page straight from the teaching of Jesus Christ who said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”(Matt 15:19)
Jesus’ statement was in response to his interaction with the Pharisees about His disciples violating their tradition. They were concerned about ceremonial cleanness and a special ritual they used in washing their hands.
Jesus said they were hypocrites. They were obsessed with human tradition instead of divine truth. They focused on the outward instead of the inward. They were preoccupied with the physical instead of the spiritual. And they were more worried about contaminating the body (really their rules) than they were defiling the heart.
The Bible uses the word “heart” to refer to the whole being. Your mind. Your emotions. Your conscience. And your will. The devil will attack your most vulnerable area. He may try to confuse your thinking, arouse illicit feelings, salve your conscience or weaken your will.
Sexual immorality is an issue of the heart. The reason there is so much immorality today is because of spiritual heart problems. We are attacked by television shows, movies and images on the internet that appeal to the lusts of the eyes and the flesh. Lurid literature that arouse lewd feelings assault the heart.
Improper attitudes reveal a heart defect. While we may be successful in guarding the heart against lusts, too many allow attitudinal problems to assail the heart. Pride, partiality, prejudice are problems of the heart that can spiritually harm us. As a result we entertain evil thoughts that can lead to falsehoods and slander.
Disregard for human life exposes an evil heart. Murder is preceded by bitterness, animosity and hatred. An evil heart produces an evil harvest. Men whose hearts are filled with hostility don’t require a gun a kill someone. They can do it with a knife. A truck. An airplane. Or a pressure cooker rigged with explosives.
The problem in our world is not a lack of laws, but a lack of love. Our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge expressed it this way: “We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand.”
Accordingly let us follow the counsel of the wise man, “Guard your heart with all diligence for out it springs the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman