The attitude of the heart becomes the definition of life. This wisdom, of course, complies with the wisdom of the proverb that says, Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
In Philippians chapter two, the first eleven verses, Paul gives to us an absolutely astounding picture of- what I call- the “Servant Christ”( He came not to be served but to serve). That whole picture begins with this, Phil 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
The key word in this statement is the word ‘attitude.’ Everything that follows in the next five verses concerning the life of Christ is entirely tied to and is the outworking of an attitude of heart. Mere religion focuses upon the life externally- while true spirituality focuses upon the internal attitude of heart.
In Phil. 2: 6 & 7 there are two attitudes of heart referred to, each set forth in a single word. Those two attitudes of heart imply two definitions of life lived. The two attitudes of heart are contrasting- and obviously, the two definitions of life related to those attitudes are also contrasting.
The first attitude of heart is expressed in the word ‘grasped’. The second attitude of heart is expressed in the word ‘emptied’.
I understand that the measure will differ from person to person, but none the less it remains true that all people on the planet are, to a lesser or greater degree, living out of one or the other of these two attitudes of heart. Perhaps it’s not the best choice of words but in keeping with the words of the text we are, as a matter of heart, “ graspers” or “emptiers”.
I might suggest that, for the most part, we will find there is a mix of these two attitudes in our living. However, if we look carefully into our hearts, and will discern our hearts on the basis of the Holy Spirit’s light I think we will find one of these two attitudes to be dominate even though there may still be some mixture.
If in some areas of my heart I find that “attitude of grasp” it does not mean I am rejected, nor that I’ve lost my faith, nor that I should feel discouraged and conclude I am less than others in the same journey. What it means is that I am not yet wholly sanctified- but that in the journey going forward I can now bring that revealed attitude of heart to the only One who can wholly sanctify- spirit, soul, and body.
I do not speak this of anyone in this house save myself. But last Sunday there was a simple but very beautiful prophetic vision spoken into this community. If you were present last Sunday, you recall that I was sharing on the unspeakable privilege of participating in the ministry of the propagation of the gospel of Christ through our giving out of a concerned heart as God allows opportunity.
At the end of the second service there came, via the Holy Spirit, this word picture of the dandelion beyond the flower stage- the dandelion in full seed stage. Here, let me show you.
The flower stage may be much prettier than the seed stage- but the seed stage is much more important to the future and to what appears next generation. And this is where I speak of myself only. I feel strongly we need to have some sense of where we are in the order of our own life- and my sense is that for me the blooming stage has given way to the seed stage- and what matters now is not the glory of the flower but the scattering and impartation of the seed. And if there is failure at this stage then what really was the value of the flower?
But this seed stage is a very critical time in relation to the attitude of the heart. If at heart I’m a ‘grasper’- then I tear down my barns and build bigger ones. If at heart I’m an ‘emptier’ then I pour the seed out as gifts of blessing upon the hearts of others.
There was an event that took place last Sunday, about three hours west of this house. That event did not occur because of what the Holy Spirit was driving into my heart around this prophetic vision of the dandelion- but most certainly He has used that event to sharpen my focus regarding the challenge to my own heart around that vision.
I spent most of my childhood and teen years in company with a group of brothers who lived about a mile up the road from me. In our teen years we formed a gospel quartet- and even made a record- which for a rag-gal- tag-gal clutch of Tom Sawyers and Huck Fins from Strathcona- wasn’t half bad.
The base singer of the group was born in February of forty nine- while I was born in May of the same year. Last Sunday morning my friend’s little granddaughter came into the house and told her grandmother that Papa was sleeping in the backyard and wouldn’t talk with her. The doctors said that he was dead of a massive heart attack before he reached the ground. I did his service yesterday.
The timing of this event has driven home to me what the Holy Spirit spoke last Sunday- and the conviction is deeper than ever that life (my life) is not ultimately about the glory of the flower- it’s about communicating or planting the seed for which the flower bloomed in the first place.
And now this Sunday, the added revelation that the thing that will most impact upon the successful broadcasting of that seed is an attitude of heart which issues forth in a definition of life.
God is doing something in these days- He is laying claim to our hearts at levels we never dreamed possible- and in the end our hearts will be transformed from grasping to emptying.
I can not finally articulate it but there is this deepening reality that the seed stage of my life is the most critical stage of the purpose of God in me. If there was ever a time for my heart to be shaped and conformed to the attitude that was in Christ Jesus- the attitude of emptying- of pouring out, of broadcasting the seed- this is the time. Wherever that leads, whatever that looks like, whatever its form or manifestation- the cry of my heart is that the grace of God will so transform or sanctify my attitude of heart that I will simply say, “Yes.”- so be it.
Coming back to the dandelion- What is the hope that the dandelion can scatter its own seed? All it can do is be faithful to stand in the place of its growth and wait for the wind to blow again.