There are times when I think about what to preach about that I think that God feels a need to beat me over the head with the same message day after day since my attention to the Word of God is bad indeed. It seems to me that the concern about the heart open to serving God and neighbor is a tremendous invitation to change my heart. For true conversion must cut away those sinful inclinations, attitudes and actions that too often are present in my heart.
We are told to be “kind and compassionate.” But to whom? And how often? We are told to forgive as we have been forgiven by God. But how often? And when? Be imitators of God. Easy, right?
Perhaps the starting point is purify our own heart. I do not know about your heart, by my heart is filled with too much of what Paul lists as those things unfitting the holy. Those things to avoid are clear. Immorality. Impurity. Greed. No obscenity or silly or suggestive talk. These things harden the heart, and cause us to be blind to the needs of others.
It is interesting that what is proposed as an antidote is thanksgiving. Think of something, anything, which you have received that has not been given to you by God. To be thankful can remind us that all we have, all good gifts, those things needed for our salvation, all of them, come from God. A lack of thanksgiving makes for a selfish heart.
A thankful heart, a heart attentive to the need of conversion and God’s forgiveness helps us to avoid immoral living, impurity, the result of seeing people as objects, or that greed which leads to blindness to the needs of others, or the prideful spirit that believes all things are the result of only our hard work.
There are hard words when we do not avoid these things. We are called idolaters, without any share in the Kingdom of God. So convert the heart.