Intimacy Before Impact
As image-bearers and followers of Christ we reflect His character and is His close relationship with God the Father. When we seek God and abide in Christ, we experience His love and we are transformed. Our thinking changes, our attitude changes, and how we view the world changes. The more we are able to receive the love of God, the more ready and prepared we will be to communicate that love to others around us.
This is what LIFE International has come to understand as Intimacy Before Impact as illustrated in five symbolic paintings. Time each week to meditate on one of the five paintings asking the Father to reveal His heart in a new way.
Spiritual Foundation: Prepare Your Heart
The journey to becoming a life-giver begins with our hearts. Our communion with the Father and impact in ministry is dependent upon continually inviting the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and show us where we need the Father’s forgiveness and restoration.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Our effectiveness will be hindered if our hearts are full of bitterness, rebellion and sin. Like David, when we cry out to God to search our hearts, He works in us to transform our hearts to reflect more of His character.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
From a Divided Heart to a Devoted Heart
Whenever we allow secondary loyalties to compete with life’s ultimate allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, the counsel we offer to others will be diminished, as will our personal growth in faith. If we are to be victorious Christians and effective ministers, we must discern and remove idols that keep us from serving God alone. God tells us to resist this sinful human tendency with the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
From a Prideful Heart to a Humble Heart
Humility is God’s way. It is neither self-debasement nor self-hatred. Instead, it is three things simultaneously:
1. Delighting in who God is
2. Delighting in who we are
3. Being willing to set aside our rights for the sake of others.
Jesus’ example of humility is the strongest model we have. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
From an Unrepentant Heart to a Repentant Heart
When we ignore sin in our lives or think that casual or habitual sin is permissible, we build a barrier between ourselves and God. The only way to tear down that barrier is to repent. The psalmist understood how sin interrupts our fellowship with God: “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:17–18). God cannot be part of sin. Nor can He ignore it, even if we do.
From an Unforgiving Heart to a Forgiving Heart
Jesus was very clear about unforgiveness. He said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14–15). If you have not forgiven others who have offended you, you cannot communicate the whole message of God’s love and forgiveness. Forgiveness makes it possible to see the offender as someone like us: a sinner in need of God’s love and forgiveness.
From a Stingy Heart to a Generous Heart
God is the most generous person in the world and He wants us to be generous toward Him and other people. Being life-giving means that we use the gifts God gives us for more than just our own benefit. Our spiritual gifts are for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–13). Some of our provision is for supplying
the needs of God’s people (2 Corinthians 9:12), and some is for bringing people to Christ (Luke 16:9). Even our lives are lived as gifts given to others (Philippians 1:21–26), and we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20).
From a Rebellious Heart to an Obedient Heart
Moral rebellion in the human heart is the root of all sin against God. Obedience is an important element in our relationships, both human and divine. King Saul disregarded God’s instructions, lied about it, and then attempted to worship God. Samuel rebuked him and said,
Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.
1 Samuel 15:22–23
Our worship, our testimony, our prayers, and our service are all meaningless if we won’t demonstrate our love for God by obeying Him. If we tell Him one thing but then live another way, we’ve made our worship and service worthless. Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21). Obeying God’s commands is the most practical way for us to demonstrate the submission of our own will to God’s will.
Devoted, humble, repentant, forgiving, generous, and obedient are the attributes of a heart prepared for ministry. God will meet each of us where we are on our journey toward Christ-likeness, and it is God who will personally cleanse each of us, making us into a vessel fit for His purposes.
How is the “Prepare Your Heart” Spiritual Foundation important to becoming a life-giver? Why is it particularly necessary to any life-giving ministry?
In what specific ways is God leading you to “prepare your heart”?