1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
7 And he arose, and departed to his house. Mat. 9:1-7
Jesus’ first order of business is always the condition of our hearts. Always. The Lord is unchangeable about this. Even if you were to be brought to Jesus just about dead and desperately clawing for your last breathe in a gesture that commanded the highest levels of pity, still the Lord wouldn’t be half interested in your precious body as He would be with your heart.
I know of a man, a friend of mine, who was very rich in the early 1990s. He had the biggest hardware business in town, and when he visited the big cities he would travel by plane. And when he went to those cities he stayed in hotels with such names as the Hilton, Intercontinental and Serena. By any standards, the man was a very ‘big’ man.
One day, this man met the Lord Jesus Christ and he became born again. There are people who think that a rich person cannot get saved. But Jesus died for all men and, in any case, it is God who knows men’s hearts. You would never have known it then by the kind of lifestyle that he lived, but after he got saved, this man demonstrated the most humble heart you will ever find anywhere.
Soon after this man got born again, two revenue officers came to his office and they told him that he had a big backlog of taxes which he had to pay. They told him, however, that he could settle the accounts by giving them a fraction of the money.
The man told them he was now saved and that he was not willing to bribe them. At which they stiffened and intimated that they could slap him with even bigger taxes, legitimate or not, if he did not play along. The man did not flinch. He told them to list all the taxes that they wanted him to pay.
The next day, they came. When I say they came, I mean that they came to finish off our man. They felled on his table a demand note that amounted to all the money that he had. The man took the paper, looked at it, and he told them to wait for him at their office. He graciously walked them out his office door then he went straight to the bank where he withdrew all the money that was there. With this money he went and paid off his taxes to the last cent.
Afterwards, he went home and informed his wife what he had done. The next day, he opened his business as usual. The fact, though, was that he was preparing to close shop. His business could never again rise from the ashes. Not long afterwards, he actually closed down his business and went home.
When his wife, who was also saved, learned of what the man had done, she stumbled in her spirit. Her heart became resentful towards her husband. She became so bitter, in fact, that she suffered a physical disability. A nerve in her backbone ruptured, or something, and she began suffering excruciating pain in her back.
She went from one doctor to another, receiving treatment after treatment at great financial cost. But her back did not improve and the pain only worsened.
In the meantime, her husband bought a piece of land with the money he had left and he began cultivating vegetables. The woman’s condition only worsened with the descent of her husband’s fortunes and status.
One day, a prophet of God came to our church. During one of the services, he called the woman over and told her the exact condition of her heart. He told her even how it had affected her physical health and how God would only heal her if she let go of the bitterness in her heart.
Obviously, this was a big demand upon the dear sister, for she had completely closed her heart. But the man of God encouraged her by telling her that all she needed to do was to be willing to let go.
Finally, the woman acquiesced. She nodded her head to indicate a ‘Yes’. At which the man of God placed his hands upon her and prayed over her and God healed her instantaneously. It is now many years hence, and this woman has never again spoken of the pain in her back, just as the man of God said.
But the point here is that her physical disability had been caused by the bitterness in her heart. When she agreed to let the bitterness go, God intervened and healed her.
It is no secret, and even many doctors own up to the fact, that many serious ailments are a result of people’s difficult heart conditions. Bitterness and unforgiveness especially are big culprits in this regard. There is nothing any earthly doctor can do to heal such conditions. There is only one doctor who can heal a heart condition: Jesus Christ, who defeated death. A heart disease is a deathly disease, and Christ is the only one with the authority to heal this most deadly of diseases.
Epilogue: After a fit of starts and stops, the brother finally settled comfortably into his new farming career. Small-scale nonetheless, but the man was content with it. That was many years ago. I have been to his farm many times and his is the best-managed farm I have ever seen. Financial-wise, it is a dim shadow of his former glory in the hardware business. But the Lord blesses in many ways. After many years of hard work, this brother’s efforts came to the attention of the regional government. Today, he showcases the region’s agricultural prowess in nearly all their agricultural exhibitions.
The best news, however, is that his wife is happy and contented by his side and they are a precious couple to behold. They are a big blessing to the church and to the community as well.
Proverbs 17:22 says:
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”