Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – I Peter 4:8
When we think about the heart, we think about that organ which is most important to the body. The heart is responsible for pumping blood and distributing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
When the heart malfunctions, or goes bad, we, who are fortunate, must get a new heart – a heart transplant. A transplant is something quite special. It requires a heart specialist who takes out the diseased heart and replaces it with a better or new heart.
Realistically, many of us get to live out our lives with the same heart with which we were born. That heart serves us well, pumping blood throughout our bodies without stopping for a rest.
Even though we have a somewhat physically good heart, spiritually, as sinful beings, all of our hearts are diseased and require a transplant. God is the specialist, who, in baptism, transplants our hearts and gives us a new heart. That new heart from God transforms us and allows us to do the work which our Lord has called us to do, in love.
The apostle in the text tells us to love one another. Loving one another is not always an easy thing to do. There are those among us who abuse us and take advantage of us.
The heart is considered to be the seat of love. It is from the heart that we feel and talk about love.
However, we sinful humans choose to love only those we wish, shutting out those who have wronged or misused us. It is not easy to love those who have wronged us.
Consequently, we sinful beings usually take the “get even” option. In fact, our first inclination is to go after those who have wronged us. Yes, that is what the sinful man does.
But instead, the man created by the spirit of God whose heart is in God’s hand, thinks and acts differently. He reaches out to his enemy in love.
In the words of the apostle, St. Peter, we are to live out our baptismal faith by showing love to the people around us. We are to love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
Jesus was once asked which commandment is the most important of all? He responded with the Shema, “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:29-31]
He did not stop there. He said the second is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” When we love God and our neighbor, we are living out our baptismal faith.
That transplanted heart in us guides us, and through the Holy Spirit, we learn to reach out and share the love of God with our neighbors. Only through recreation, through baptism, we can love and share the love of Christ with the world, even our enemies.
Without the love of God living within us, we fall short. King David once fell short through his actions against God’s command. Consequently, he needed a renewal of spirit and a reassurance of his relationship to and with God. Therefore, he implores the Lord in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
When we are recreated by God, St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Unlike a physical transplanted heart, which lasts some years, the new “heart” God gives to us, through baptism, lasts forever.
“And since He has put our hearts in His hand, we take His outgoing love to all people.” [Dr. Dale Myer LWML Sunday sermon 2021] Amen.
I thank God for His guidance through the years. Tomorrow is my birthday. Praise the Lord.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.