Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Purpose of Heart

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8 NKJV)

When he [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. (Acts 11:23 NKJV)

Daniel’s decision and Barnabas’ exhortation to the new believers at Antioch had one thing in common: each one shows a purpose in the heart. Daniel made one decision that would cover the next three years of eating and drinking. He purposed in his heart on principle. The principle was that “he would not defile himself.” He did not wait until breakfast was at hand and then make a subjective decision not to eat when breakfast was set before him and he was hungry. He did not wait again for lunch and then make his decision about that particular lunch. He would have compromised. He “purposed in his heart” at one time for a long time. Daniel did not know how he was going to carry out his purpose. He assumed that if he acted on principle, God would provide the correct “how” to live out that principle.

So it was with the exhortation “that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Barnabas is asking for a one-time purpose that would be long lasting. Barnabas did not tell these believers how to continue with the Lord. He assumed that if they had purposed in their hearts to continue with the Lord, they would continue with the Lord.

There are “hows” of not defiling yourself and “hows” of continuing with the Lord, but they are of little value unless there is a “purpose of heart.” If we wait until the event is upon us before we make the decision, we are almost sure to compromise.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

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