A Matter of the Heart {DWITW 365}

 “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
— Deuteronomy 30:6

There it is again. Circumcision. Something I can understand in theory, but can never have experiential knowledge of. It reminds me of walking into that inevitable middle school health class covering the in’s and out’s of puberty and being ill-prepared to fully comprehend the diagrams of anatomy that, as a female, I didn’t possess. Sometimes I look at imagery scattered throughout Scripture with a similar sense of befuddlement. I know references to common practices, such as circumcision in this case, are not meant to veil the truth, but to facilitate a greater depth of understanding. In light of that, I don’t want to skim over the difficult bits at the cost of missing something important.

At this point in Deuteronomy, Moses has shared with the Israelites the curses and blessings that respectively accompany disobedience and obedience to the Lord. The Israelites are at Moab and the Lord is renewing the covenant given to them back at Horeb (Exodus 19-40). It is after Moses has begun to address Israel’s repentant return to the Lord and after their acts of disobedience that he mentions the circumcision of the heart. Circumcision is an act of compassion. This reminder falls amid promises of restoration and life when the Israelites have turned from their rebellion and returned to their God. It is not something they could do in their own strength. They could not change their own hearts.

The stubbornness that had bound them had to be cut away for them to love unrestrained.

And so, God intervenes. Though it may cause pain, God intervenes in love so that the Israelites could, in turn, love God with all of themselves - with all their hearts, souls, and strength (Deut. 6:5). The stubbornness that had bound them had to be cut away for them to love unrestrained (Deut. 10:16). A part of them had to die, so that they could truly live and love the way they were meant to.

But this unseen liberation comes with a need for submission and humility. It comes with a need for a realization of powerlessness and lack, and ultimately a recognition of the greatness and supremacy of God. Here, I begin to see my own similar need beating within the hearts of the Israelites. I cannot change my own heart. I cannot make it into what it needs to be or make it long for the things I want it to long for, for the things that delight God’s heart. But do I trust Him to cut away what is necessary?  Do I trust Him with the things that are stifling, even killing me, from within? Do I trust Him to wield the knife in kindness and in love? Do I trust these hands that made me? Do you? Regardless of any pain it may cause, I cannot know life apart from loving God.

So, while my physical make-up may differ from that of the Israelite patriarchs and leaders, we, too, have a shared need of God’s intervention in the redemption of our hearts. Apart from God’s own handiwork, I cannot love Him well. I cannot love Him by the force of my own strength, or by mustering enough self-discipline, or by willfully setting my mind to it. I am reminded that I am in desperate need of Christ and what His work on the cross accomplished for me, for us. He is our only hope for change, for life, and for love.

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
- ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:11-12

I cannot know life apart from loving God.

I have experienced what I initially assumed impossible. As this verse says, in Christ, I have become subject to circumcision. This is not a circumcision of a piece of my body, but rather a circumcision of my body of flesh - my fallen, sinful nature and all that accompanies it. By the circumcision of Christ, our inheritance as children of Adam is cast off (1 Corinthians 15:22) and we are able to stand united with Christ as inheritors of His righteousness and living dwellings for His Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:5). And it is the Spirit that enables us to live anew in obedience to God, imitating Jesus. It is for Him that our hearts were made, by Him our hearts are able to love, and through Him our hearts find life. It is true then that “...circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, [and] not by the letter..” (Romans 2:29) Our transformation then is not the result of rules, but an evidence of the Holy Spirit at work within us, cutting away the things that hinder.

So, as we look back on the past week and ahead to the next week’s reading, what are some places where you feel the Spirit calling you to let Him cut away the things of the flesh from your heart?


Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:“ Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV