In English, we say, “Let’s get to the heart of the matter” when it’s time to talk about what’s REALLY important or what’s really going on in a situation. I often have to get to the heart of the matter with my children. When they are arguing with each other or teasing one another it’s usually because one of them is feeling and thinking something negative and taking it out on the other. My job is to uncover and expose that negative thought or feeling and help my child see how it is affecting them and others around them. I have to do this same thing with myself and my spouse whenever we are experiencing a breakdown in our relationship. There’s always a deeper, underlying negative thought or feeling at play. Psychologists are good at helping people get to the heart of the matter and they do it by listening carefully and then asking the right questions to lead people to what’s really going on. Medical doctors are even more precise in getting to the heart of the matter and they don’t waste a lot of time. They will kindly listen to you explain your symptoms, but then they will do an examination and the necessary tests and tell you EXACTLY what the problem is and what you need to do about it. My friend recently had this experience with his doctor who prescribed drastic and immediate changes in diet and exercise if my friend wanted to remain on the earth for much longer. Getting to the heart of the matter can be the difference between life and death. No one on earth was as good at getting to the heart of the matter as Jesus. When a young wealthy ruler approached Jesus and told him that he wanted to become his follower, Jesus replied by telling the young man to go and sell all his stuff and give all the money to the poor and then to come and follow him. The young man walked away sad because he was rich and couldn’t bear to part with his money and things. Jesus didn’t ask all his followers to specifically sell everything and give it all to the poor before they followed him, but Jesus knew that this young man’s heart would never fully belong to God unless he did so because he was too in love with his possessions. On another occasion, Jesus met a woman at a well and asked her for a drink of water. The woman was surprised that Jesus was speaking to her because in that day and age men did not address women and more importantly she was a Samaritan and Jesus was a Jew and these two people groups despised each other, but Jesus was there to speak to her heart. After she avoided his important questions with trivial questions of her own, Jesus told her to go and get her husband to which she replied that she didn’t have one. Jesus then told her that she had already had 5 husbands and the man she was living with now was indeed not her husband. How could this man she had never met before, know this about her? Jesus had her heart’s full attention. She ran back to her town and told everyone to come and listen to this man who knew about everything she had ever done. All the town came to listen to Jesus and then believed in Him. Jesus gets to the heart of the matter FOR ALL OF US when he asks, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36) This question continues to echo and reverberate throughout all time, cultures, and civilizations. No one can escape it. Jesus wants everyone to think about what’s truly important. What’s truly at stake. Another time Jesus told the following story:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'"
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (Luke 12:16-20)
These verses make me think of Vichai Srivaddhana. Do you recognize this name? He was the billionaire owner of the Leicester City Premier League Soccer Club, who died when his helicopter crashed and exploded right next to the soccer stadium where his team had just played. This man had no idea his life was about to end and then in the blink of an eye, his money, his investments, his businesses, his possessions, everything he owned. suddenly became useless and meaningless to him. Mr. Vichai now knows for certain what we have yet to experience…that when your money and your things and your very body itself are gone, only one thing remains: your soul. Jesus says take care of that first for that is the most important part of you. That is the heart of the matter. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)