One thing that I really enjoy is Mexican food. And I’m guessing that you’ve probably all had this feeling after you finish a delicious, spicy meal. Just as you’re thinking about how wonderful it was … you get a sudden pain in your chest. Yes, it’s heartburn. It’s not at all a very pleasant thing physically, but so necessary in our spiritual life.
Let’s take a look at Luke 24:32. “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?”
What about a man with a burning heart? What sort of symptoms will he display? I suggest that he will be characterized by an overwhelming “burning” passion for God’s Word and for his Lord. He won’t be satisfied with just 15 minutes alone with God or simply reading his “chapter-of-the-day.” He will crave more.
In fact, His mind and heart will become completely obsessed with God’s Word. He will feel no greater desire than to study it. But, he will not study for mere knowledge. No, instead he studies it for one reason alone – because it speaks of the One He loves. He studies it because there he meets his closest friend, and there he is transformed to be more like Him. He studies it just to be close to Christ.
And so I ask myself, what is my motivation in studying God’s Word? Is it duty? Do I study it just to know more or do I study it to know Christ more?”
What about when I finish studying? Am I relieved to be through with my routine so I can get on with the day’s activities? Or do I reluctantly close my Bible … wishing I had more time to spend with Him?
The Bible gives us some amazing “first-hand testimonials” of men who had burning hearts. Jeremiah says, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire” (20:9). The Psalmist says, “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3).
So, how do I get a burning heart? Luke 24 reveals that there is only one way to this or any other change of heart. The answer is quiet communion with Him.
We find in Luke 24 that time spent with Him illuminated their eyes and minds (v 31), increased their understanding (v 27), ignited their hearts (v 32), and inspired them to service (v 33). If we would be more like Christ and if we would know him more, there is no shortcut. Only one path can be found, and that is countless hours spent alone with Him and living every moment of every day in nearness to Him.
Sometimes it means a change of plans. Whatever reason these men had for going to the village seems to have been forgotten. We read that they asked the Lord to abide with them, and once He left, they rose that same hour and went to Jerusalem (v 33).
I wonder how often we have missed feeling a fire in our hearts because we refuse to let Him interrupt our lives. How many times has He “made as though He would have gone further” and we failed to constrain Him crying, “Abide with us”? And so, we missed the blessing.
If we’re to have our hearts set aflame by Him, we must be willing to let Him interrupt our lives, yes, even control them. The dictionary says that to be obsessed is to be “excessively preoccupied with a single subject.” That’s what we need. We need to be excessively preoccupied with Him.
If our hearts are to burn with passion, we must spend time alone with Him and He must be our companion and teacher every moment of every day. Oh to be set on fire by the great Refining Fire! Would that we all had hearts that were passionate for Him, purged by Him, and possessed by Him!
The words of Jim Elliot’s journal come to mind. “[He makes] His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this my soul – short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him.” What an important matter the condition of my heart is! It affects my whole life.
So what does a spiritually healthy heart look like? I would suggest that a healthy heart will be a Big Heart in relation to others, it will be a Broken Heart in relation to self, and it will be a Burning Heart in relation to Christ. May we all covet these heart problems that we might be more like our Lord and Master! “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26).