An Enlarged Heart and its Effect
Liberty is a great blessing — but the enjoyment of evangelical liberty is the greatest blessing.
To be freed from the claims of the violated law,
to be delivered from the power of guilt on the conscience,
to be brought up out of a horrible pit,
and have the feet set upon a rock —
is an unspeakable privilege!
This liberty lies at the root of cheerful obedience, which made the Psalmist say, "I will run the way of your commandments, when you shall enlarge my heart." Psalm 119:32. What a desirable state! What a blessed result!
THE PRIVILEGE. "An enlarged heart." Man's heart is naturally contracted by sin, especially by selfishness, which makes man his own idol, and gathers his thoughts and affections around himself, to the neglect of others. But unbelief closes the heart against God, refuses to believe his love, and prevents the enjoyment of his soul-enlarging truth. The love of the world always has a contracting and hardening tendency as well. So that if a man is under the power and guilt of sin; if selfishness, unbelief, and the love of the world rule in him — then he is sure to be narrow, contracted, and unfitted for duty.
The enlargement of the heart is of sovereign grace. It flows from the atonement, which is a glorious exhibition of the unselfishness, love, and large-heartedness of God. It is produced by the Holy Spirit, who sheds abroad the love of the Father in it, applies the precious blood of the Son to it, and makes the doctrine of free grace work effectually upon it.
Nothing will enlarge the heart like . . .
a knowledge of God and his wondrous love;
faith in Jesus and his finished work;
love to God and his people;
joy in God;
and the peace of the gospel enjoyed within.
Enlargement comes through . . .
the word, believed and appropriated;
prayer, when the heart is drawn out to, and engaged with God;
and the sweet but powerful operations of the Holy Spirit, as the Comforter, and Spirit of adoption.
THE PROMISE. "I will run the way of your commandments." God's commands are reasonable and sacred. But men are not willing, generally, to do as God bids them, until grace teaches and constrains them. David says, "I will — if God enlarges my heart." If God will give me love and power — I will do whatever God has commanded.
I will do it readily — for I will run.
I will do it steadily — I will do it from my heart.
I will do it punctually — just as God has commanded.
I will do it cheerfully — as one that loves the work, and his employer too.
"I will run," this expresses great affection, and joyful perseverance.
God's commands — are man's rule; and by these we should carefully and constantly walk. Religion must be voluntary and practical — or it cannot be pleasant to us, or acceptable to God. A large heart is a loving heart — beating with love toward God and man, and glowing with a desire to honor the Savior. A loving heart is an obedient heart — for love always prompts us to please the beloved object, and to do just as he wishes us. The life is — as the heart is. If the heart is selfish and contracted — so will the life be.
Man's work — flows from God's work. If God works within — we work without. If he enlarges the heart — the effect is sure to appear in the life. With the church we may say, "You, O Lord, have wrought all our works in us." God's free grace — is the root of man's cheerful obedience!
Reader, did you ever experience this enlargement of the heart? If so, you felt as if you must run in the way of God's commandments . . .
out of pure love to him,
to express your obligation to him,
and to glorify his sovereign grace.
If you have never had a heart enlarged by the Holy and ever blessed Spirit — then you know nothing of the sweetness of experimental religion; nor do you know what true holiness means. It takes a large heart to hold much of God's grace, and it takes much grace to make poor, dull, heavy creatures like us heartily say, "I will run the way of My commandments!"