Do you have an “honest and good heart”?
The phrase “an honest and good heart” is taken from Jesus’ parable of the sower, in which he describes what happens when the seed (the word of God) lands on different types of soil (people). The “honest and good heart”is described in connection with good soil: “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:15).
The honest and good heart is one that when the words of God are heard, that same heart holds fast to those words of truth, and turns it into good, useful fruit. The effect that the word of God can have on an honest and good heart is also described by a friend of Christ’s, the apostle Paul: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Faith = Believing = Trusting
Faith is that fruit that comes from hearing the word of God – “the spirit of Truth” as Jesus calls it (John 16) - with an honest and good heart. In another scripture, God’s word helps create a more complete picture: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The “honest and good heart,” when it hears the word of God, will examine it carefully, hold fast to the good news contained therein, and produce the fruit of faith, an “assurance of things hoped for, and a conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Is there more that can be produced from holding fast to the good news of the word of God? Faith is only one of many fruits that are produced: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”(Galatians 5:22, 23). This fruit is the development of God’s character in us, and it is the hope of the whole Bible that the earth will be filled with those who have produced this spiritual fruit.
“In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout, And they will fill the whole world with fruit.” Isaiah 14:29
“The tree is known by its fruit.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 12
But these fruits cannot be developed in an isolated individual. It is important then, that until God’s appointed day when the whole world is filled with”the fruit of the spirit”, those of an honest and good heart come together to fellowship – “pursuing the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19).
Careful examination of the word of God in fellowship is powerful, for it highlights those good things that we can hold fast to, and by it we reap even more fruit. Fellowship allows those of “an honest and good heart” to put into practice the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, patience, kindness… those fruits, which describe God’s character, can only be truly developed and formed when we have others to show them to.
Do you want an “honest and good heart”?
Read and examine God’s word, the Bible. Hold fast to the good news it contains. Allow that message to develop genuine faith in God’s promises. Seek to worship with others of the same heart, who strive to “worship God in spirit and truth,” just as Jesus says (John 4), and practice in fellowship, “the fruit of the spirit.”
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11