Playing catch-up after a busy weekend…
16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16 NIV)
Circumcision of males was a sign of their (Israel’s) covenant with God. But what does it mean to “circumcise your hearts?”
Circumcision was a sign – one that could not be hidden or undone – of Abraham’s and then Israel’s covenant. Circumcision of the heart suggests a similar, permanent(?) change in the heart that cannot be undone or hidden. (Well it can be hidden and usually is).
John Wesley says of this verse “…cleanse your hearts from all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness…”
Stiff-necked is usually translated as “stubborn.” The image is of a draft animal that refuses to submit to the yoke and pull the load.
Continuing from Sunday’s reflections, much of what we see as “new” in the New Testament is more accurately seen as the climax of what God has always been doing, asking, seeking. The law was not about doing stuff for God – it was about real holiness, real righteousness, real change.
For me on my journey today with Christ, these words of Moses remind me that my heart is in constant need of circumcision. Or perhaps that is never quite finished (ok, you can carry an image too far!). The change of heart and mind that God brings through the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ is, like circumcision, an event that happens but also a process, a journey toward holiness and perfection in love that begins at that moment.
May I not be stiff-necked, either, resisting the change of heart, the soul surgery, that God wants to work in me today.
O Lord who sees my heart and discerns my thoughts… circumcise my heart today. Cut away what is unholy and unclean. Remove what blocks your love from taking root and your Spirit from taking control. Bend, too. my stiff neck that stubborn clings to my will rather than yours, to my way rather than the road upon which you would have me walk. In the name of Jesus who transforms my heart and will. Amen.