Sunday, May 4, 2008

Restoration Heart Progress Measurement Meter: Sincere Love

At "Restoration Heart" we think and write a lot about what having a heart in the process of being restored by God's love and grace is all about. That's a good thing!

But, how do we measure quantitatively what progress in the restoration process looks like? There is no test or meter known to industry or science that measures "heart restoration" in the emotional, spiritual, mental and even physical aspects of life.

Lately I've been facing some challenges that are stretching the restoration process in my own heart. I've had more responsibilities than usual. I've had more things to think about and process than usual. I've had more people in my life with pressing needs. I've been getting less sleep than usual and the list goes on.

I'm discovering something. The above list has become a pretty significant "measurement meter" of how far the process of God's restoration of my heart is going. There's no tangible read or print-out of this "intangible" progress, but my heart knows that my restoration process needs more work!

God still has work to do in my heart, but my sure hope is that God always keeps His promises. God promises to keep working away on my heart until His restoration is complete. "He who began this good work in you will bring it to completion ... " (Phil. 1:6, NIV) Eugene Peterson renders this verse: "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish ... " (The Message)

Restoring hearts is lengthy work and totally hopeless unless God is the Initiator and Completer. Our great and only hope of sure heart restoration is that He is the Great Restorer!

The Biblical image of the Potter and the clay comes to mind. A cracked pot can't fix itself. Only the Potter can recast the flawed clay by grinding it down and turning it back into raw clay for restoration.

Another great determination of how much progress I am making in heart restoration is in how much I can love God and others sincerely. In Romans 12:9, Paul reminds us how the Gospel demonstrably changes us, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” The Message says, "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it! "

What is "sincere love"? "Sincere" comes from Latin: "sine cera." The literal translation of "sincere" is "without (sine) wax (cera).

In New Testament times it was common practice to hide cracks in pottery by filling them with wax. Thus vendors could pass flawed pottery off as having more value. The proof came when the test of heat melted the wax and revealed the flaws. Quality pottery products bore the stamp "sine cera" to indicate purity and "unaltered with wax" quality - not a fake. "Sine cera" was the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval in the first century.

When the Gospel is centered in our hearts, then sincere love results. God calls us to love God and others purely, truly and sincerely. The Restorer-God shows us the way of sincere love in the heart of the Gospel: Jesus put on our skin, came and walked and lived in our neighborhood and died in our place paying a debt we owed but could never pay because God loves you and me.

It is this very same radical, sincere love that we have to offer our world. When we love sincerely, the whole world sees love coming from a restored heart! That's more than a good thing! It's a very good thing!

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