And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules. (Ezek 36:26-27)(Get it? "Heart of flesh". "Heartwarming". Oh, never mind.)
I'm sure you've heard that before. It's about the glorious promise of God to replace our dead hearts with live ones, to implant us with His Spirit so that we can walk in His way. It is truly magnificent news, the heart (so to speak) of the Gospel.
But ... did you ever ask "Why?" Why does God remove a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh? Why does He put His Spirit in people? What is God's motivation?
Well, of course, we all know what that is, right? He loves us. God loves all of us and, loving us as He does, He wants good things for us. At least, that's what our gut tells us. Perhaps we ought to examine what the text tells us.
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came." (Ezek 36:22)Oh, didn't see that coming. And, in case you missed it, like a matching bookend, He puts a reminder at the back side of this discussion.
It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways." (Ezek 36:32)We have this problem, you see. As born rebels, we tend to think that it's all about us. And you might see why. Wasn't this entire planet and all that it entails made for us? I mean, God didn't say about anyone else, "Let Us make man in Our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Gen 1:26) Very clearly we are the top, the apex, the primary point. But why? Well, we were made for Him. And what is the key difference between these two ideas? We didn't make the world that is ours; He did.
It sounds a bit egotistical for God to say, "It's all about Me." Or it would if it weren't true. It is, however. All things were made by Him and for Him (Col 1:16). So the instant that we begin to think, "It's about us", we begin to stray from sanity. And that is why we have such a problem with God. "Oh," we complain, "He wouldn't do that!" when we're told that He ordered the deaths of men, women, and children (1 Sam 15:3) or that God makes some for honor and some for dishonor (Rom 9:21) or some other uncomfortable truth. It might be true that if we were the point, He wouldn't do that. But if He is the point--if His Name and His glory and His purposes are the point--then perhaps we had better think again about what He might or might not do. And we had better think again about why He does it, beginning with "It's not about me."
It is truly good news that God promises, plans, and carries out the removal of hearts of stone and the replacement with hearts of flesh. It is amazing grace that God places His Spirit in us to enable us to obey Him. But never forget why He does it. It's not because you're just so darn loveable. It's for His Name's sake, for His glory, for Him. And it should be.