Choked Hearts, Enlarged Hearts

Tom Burke

October 2004
© 2004 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

Light. It is such a part of everyday experience that we may forget to thank God for it. But what would we do without light? It is essential to every aspect of life.

And yet some avoid the light. When it is introduced, they may hide, or even run. Why? Because light exposes what man is doing, and not everyone wants his or her deeds to be known. This reaction is common enough that when hidden activities are exposed, we speak of them being “brought to light”.

How appropriate that God refers to His Word as light.

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The light of God’s Word is essential to the life of the believer. It reveals who God really is, and who man really is. It explains what God has done.

It also specifies what man should be doing. For those who desire to live for God, this is good news. Even though we may occasionally — or, some of us, frequently — discover that our lives don’t line up with God’s Word, it is still good news. Because without the reproof of the Scriptures, we would never have known our error. The Word of God makes known the error so that we can change.

And that is where the problem comes in. Some don’t want to change. They would rather live in error than endure the pain of admitting they were wrong and the inconvenience of modifying their behavior. For them, the entrance of light is not something in which to rejoice.

John 3:20–21
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The Word of God is not like the dead works of dead men which can be read, put away, and forgotten. It grips the soul of man and requires a response. Unlike the works of men, this Word is living and powerful.

Heb 4:12
For the word of God is quick [living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

People often discuss their thoughts about God and no real change occurs or is expected, but when God’s own thoughts are introduced the response (or reaction) can be astonishing.

Consider a few of the responses documented in the book of Acts:

Acts 2:37
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

On the other hand…

Acts 5:33
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

Acts 7:54
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

The teaching of God’s Word elicited an immediate response in each of these groups — but the responses were dramatically different! And no wonder — for the Word of God pierces the heart. And what follows that piercing has much to do with the nature of the heart being pierced. The parable of the sower describes how, when received with the right heart, the reception of God’s Word, though perhaps initially painful, can result in much fruit.

Luke 8:15
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The apostle Paul’s life was dedicated to bringing the light of the gospel to those living in darkness. He knew that these words, though sometimes startling, would bring people from death to life, from bondage to liberty. But his words were not always received with thankfulness, even by believers!

II Corinthians 6:11, 12
O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

Ye are not straitened [choked or confined] in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.

In other words, some of the Corinthians were saying, “Man, we were doing fine till Paul came around. We were happy, we didn’t give much thought to out behavior, and we did what we pleased. Then he came along and started choking our lives and confining our freedom!”

Paul’s response was, “I’m not choking you. I’m simply speaking the truth. Your hearts have responded to that truth, and it is your own hearts that are choking you.”

Reproof is not easy. Like light, once it has exposed error in one’s heart, that error is difficult to ignore. So why ignore it? Why not heed it? Then we will have the joy of bearing the fruit which our wrong behavior has been stealing.

II Corinthians 6:13
Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

The living Word of God may sometimes pierce the heart. This should be an indicator to us of how much we need it. When we are willing to change our hearts to conform to God’s Word, and not the reverse, we will find that our hearts are enlarged, enriched, and abounding in good fruit.

Hebrews 12:11
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.