II CORINTHIANS 5:12: “We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who take pride in outward appearance rather than in the heart.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I taking pride in the outward appearances of life? Is this what life is all about – what position we hold, what we possess, what we wear, or what other people think of us? How easy it is to fall into this very familiar trap!

Why does this happen so easily? I think it is because we allow the world to define what success is in our life. This is true for everyone, especially pastors. While we know that God is really interested in the growth and change of the heart, the measurements of our success as a pastor are seen by others as our average Sunday morning attendance, our offerings and contributions to missions, and the size and condition of our buildings. It is subtle, but a pastor’s greatest temptation is to begin to measure their success by these standards.

This is really true for everyone. We are always comparing ourselves to others. And the marketing gurus are there to help foster and fan the flames of this attitude. The emulation of celebrity, the celebration of success, and the status of position keep us ever off balance as to what is truly important. Paul reminds us – it is the heart! This is true in physical things, and it is also true in spiritual things. It is not what we do, it is who we are becoming – in our heart!

It is the heart that matters!

  • “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CSB

It is not mountain moving faith, spiritual gifts, wisdom, knowledge, or sacrifice that matter to God. It is our heart! Jesus was very clear. It is what proceeds out of the heart that matters. The Pharisees had everything neat and tidy on the outside. Yet, Jesus said inside their lives were like a tomb filled with a rotting corpse. We can hide our emotions under a smile and a set of nice clothes. Yet, we really know the condition of our heart.

It is the heart that matters!

So how do we know if we are truly focusing on the condition of our heart? It is really very easy. It is the same thing Paul stated in I Corinthians 13. It is love. And the love of God will make no sense to the world, but it is the deciding factor for the believer in Christ!

  • “For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 CSB

A heart that is being transformed is a heart that is growing in love. It is not love without direction. Rather, it is a love focused on one thing. It is a love that is daily laying down one’s own life in order to live for Christ. And to live for Christ is to ultimately to live for others. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Therefore, love is not focused on one’s outward appearance, standing, or comfort. Love is concerned about the eternal condition of one’s heart and the heart of others!

It is the heart that matters!

  • “Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 CSB

A heart that is being transformed by God’s love has no choice but to call out to others to experience the same wonderful provision and blessing. When one’s sins are forgiven, when righteousness is freely imputed by God, it transforms the heart from an outward focus, to a focus of faith. It makes us new creatures in Christ, with a new purpose for living. How can we be focused on the outward man when we know that we once were dead and now we live? And, how can we keep this wonderful blessing to ourselves? We are compelled by the very love that has transformed us, to call others to be transformed in Christ!

Lord, this morning, forgive me for the times when I have fallen back into trusting in outward appearances. Help me to focus on the true essence of life. Help me to focus on the matters of the heart. And as I do, compel me to plead with others to be reconciled to God through the transforming power of Christ! Help me to always remember…

It is the heart that matters!

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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