Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1
“Let not your heart be troubled.” Is this on the same line as “be careful for nothing” (Philippians 4:6)? But as we look together, Lord, I see these aren’t the same. Both “attitudes” lead us away from You, but there is a fundamental difference. “Let not you heart be troubled” focusses on my “inner me” attitudes that guide my decision making. It’s the “heart of the matter,” so to speak. “Be careful for nothing” looks at the things that get in the way with my walk. Both have to do with a wrong focus on my part.
“Let not you heart be troubled.” What does that mean? What is my heart responsible for? The Greek word for heart is “kardia.” Through my internet searching I found that it’s never used of the physical, blood pumping heart in Scripture. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament it is always referring to the inner life or intentions. Strong’s Concordance defines it as the mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says it is the “‘affective center of our being’ and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice). [It’s the] desire-producer that makes us tick” (G. Archer), i.e our ‘desire-decisions’ that establish who we really are. It’s the “seat and center of all physical and spiritual life…’the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors.'” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
“Let not the “inner you” be troubled.” “Let not your mind be troubled.” “Don’t let your thoughts be troubled.” “Don’t let your purpose be troubled.” See, this is a whole different emphasis than “cares.” But now I have to stop and figure out what my inner me, what my thoughts aren’t supposed to be doing. They aren’t supposed to be troubled. What does that really mean for me? Troubled how? Troubled about what?
“Tarasso,” is the Greek word for “to stir or agitate (roil water).” Now the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon gives us some other thoughts on this word. Not only can it imply agitation and troubling a thing “by the movement of its parts to a fro”, but it can imply inward commotion where my calmness of mind is being robbed from me. It disturbs my equanimity. Oh, my, that’s a big, new word for me. What does that mean?
Wow, this is an important word today. According to Webster’s dictionary it means “evenness of mind.” He goes on to define it as “that calm temper of firmness of mind which is not easily elated or depressed, which sustains prosperity without excessive joy, and adversity without violent agitation of the passions or depression of spirits. The great man bears misfortune with equanimity.” I think I’m beginning to get the picture of what You mean by “troubled.”
But the Lexicon goes on to say that “troubled” means to “disquiet, make restless.” It means to “stir up.” The expression “stir up trouble” comes to my mind. It can mean to “strike one’s spirit with fear and dread. Trouble can render me “anxious or distressed.” It can “perplex the mind of one by suggesting scruples or doubts.” Scruples? I better not leave that word undefined. Again, according to Noah Webster, scruples refers to “doubt; hesitation from the difficulty of determining what is right or expedient; backwardness; reluctance to decide or to act.”
“Let not your heart be troubled.” Don’t doubt. Don’t hesitate. Don’t harbor false thinking. Don’t let the doubts be stirred. Don’t let fear take over. Control your thoughts. Think My thoughts. Push out the foreign hand that’s stirring up the waters. Concentrate on Me. Let me speak, “Peace, be still” over your mind and heart and in your thoughts. “Let not your heart be troubled.” Stop entertaining other thoughts.
How, Lord? How do I do this. You know that my mind is constantly going. I’m one of those creative, imaginative people. I’m always thinking. How can I get my mind under control? I can’t do it by myself. I know. My mind used to occupy itself so much with thinking that I couldn’t sleep sometimes. The only way I could fix that was to ask You to give me a quiet mind at night. And you did. Now I sleep like a baby. Just let my head hit that pillow. “Let not your heart be troubled.” How?
“You believe in God, believe also in Me.” I’m going to go with the ERV version here. “Trust in God, and trust in Me.” This is the answer. Trust. It seems like such a simple word. It’s only five letters. I read it and figure, “Well, there’s an easy one I don’t need to look up.” I mean, it’s not like “equanimity” or “scruples.” But actually, it’s just as important or more so. Because, what does it really mean to trust? Especially, what does it really mean to trust You, Jesus?
How do I explain faith? Well, I’m going to let some others help me understand. This is one man’s explanation. “True Biblical faith has God as its object. We believe God and trust His Word. That Word does not tell us that we have any reason to expect to be the richest merchant on Main Street. It tells us, on the contrary, that we will have tribulations and that as Jesus’ disciples we will have crosses to bear. It assures us, however, of grace to bear them. Faith has a backward look. It declares that God has done mighty acts in days gone by. Faith also has a forward look. It declares that He can be trusted for the future….Faith is the firm assurance, the conviction, that God will do what He has promised to do. It would, of course, be presumption to insist that He must do what we want done. Many Christians grow disillusioned in their Christian lives because God does not conform to their wills. Faith takes God at His word; faith does not insist that He conform to our ideas. (Pfeiffer, C. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Chicago, IL: Moody Press)”
That’s not all. Here is more. “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s Word in spite of circumstances and consequences. Read that last sentence again and let it soak into your mind and heart. This faith operates quite simply. God speaks and we hear His Word. We trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be. The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown; but we obey God’s Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best. The unsaved world does not understand true Bible faith, probably because it sees so little faith in action in the church today. The cynical editor H.L. Mencken defined faith as “illogical belief in the occurrence of the impossible.” The world fails to realize that faith is only as good as its object, and the object of our faith is God. Faith is not some “feeling” that we manufacture. It is our total response to what God has revealed in His Word. “(Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament. 1989. Victor or Wordsearch)
Wow! And listen to this comment. “By defining faith (Gk. pistis) as “assurance” and “conviction,” the author indicates that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful thinking. Instead, faith is a settled confidence that something in the future—something that is not yet seen but has been promised by God—will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. Thus biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable “leap in the dark”; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful, infinitely wise, eternally trustworthy—the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ, whose promises have proven true from generation to generation, and who will “never leave nor forsake” his own (Heb 13:5).” (ESV Online Study Bible Crossway or Wordsearch)
A man named Vincent said, “Our senses may lie; God cannot (Titus 1:2). People fail; God does not (Nu 23:19). Circumstances change; God never does (Mal 3:6).” And this is important, because of who my object of faith is. I don’t have blind faith. I have faith in You, Jesus. I have faith in the Dependable One. I have faith in the Faithful One. I have faith in the Mighty One. I have faith in You, Jesus, in God. And that is what matters. Because You alone are Dependable.
Faith is the conviction of the truth of You. Faith is the conviction of the truth of God. Faith is “You said it, therefore it WILL come to pass.” Faith is believing in You, in everything You said, in every truth You showed. Faith is my allegiance to You. It’s 100% allegiance that leads to the “persevering of my soul” no matter the circumstances. Bob Utley states, “Faith is a human response to God’s faithfulness and His promise. We trust His trustworthiness, not our own. His character is the key.”
I think of another word for trust that You showed me yesterday. How the idea of laying my life down for You means to place all of my well-being and safety and care into Your hands. I become Your “property,” Your “possession” to be cared for. I become Your “legal” obligation. Which is a good thing. I can place all of me into Your hands because there is this legally binding eternal contract, Your death and resurrection for me, that guarantees my care. Faith is trusting that contract 100%. Faith is living and thinking as though I have been placed eternally into Your hands and I am Yours to be kept and cared for.
This is how I keep my heart from being troubled. I keep myself in You. I keep my thoughts lined up with Your thoughts. I could list Scripture references that talk about being troubled. Sometimes it has to do with being fearful. I experience that sometimes. And then I run to You and grasp Your Word even more tightly until it pushes the fear away and replaces it with love, power, and a sound mind. Then there’s the difficult situations that just hurt to have to go through. I’ve been there too. Still in some. I run to You. I run to Your Word. I run to fellow believers and I fill myself, my mind, with Your truth. I cling to it. And I experience that I am not alone; I am never forsaken; and I get to eventually become one of Your overcomers. But most of the time, there’s a bantering that continually wants to pose doubts. It comes from within and from without. It can come from inside the church and from the world. And sometimes it just pops up from my own mind. But You say, “let not your heart be troubled.” So, I’ll listen to You and trust You and not those thoughts that don’t line up with You regardless of whether they are from me, or a friend, or the church, or the world.
Yes, Paul, examined this idea. See, he had been living under a false faith for a long time. So he had come to understand the power in these words. He shares the answer with the Corinthians and with us. “The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
Lord, this is my prayer. I want to rely on Your weapons. Well, I don’t want to just rely on Your weapons; I want to rely on You and all that You are. I want to live and make my decisions based on the reality of who You are, based on Your power. Break every stronghold in my mind. Tear down every brick and crush it to smithereens. Every false argument that pops up in my mind, slay it, crush it, destroy it, and cast it out. Every proud idea that puffs itself up against You, pull it down. I want to actively join in this battle with You. Give me the power to slay, crush, destroy, and cast out. I want my thoughts to be obedience to You, to be lined up with Your thoughts. I commit to not allow doubt, or fear, or discontent to remain in my mind. I will actively entrust You with my thoughts and my life. Let my mind be Your mind. Let my life be Your life.
(Thanks to Doctor Judith Armandico Manito for letting me use her beautiful photo from home!)