Put in my heart.
Nehemiah 2:2 says, “I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem.” What does that mean, “God had put in my heart,” and how does that look for modern-day Christians? Does God place things on our hearts today? How would I know if he does?
Depending on your upbringing, if you are a Christian or not, or if you grew up in one flavor of Christianity over another (Conservative Lutheran, Pentecostal or Baptist, etc.), you might have varied ways of looking at this idea of “God had put it in my heart . . .”
How does someone, anyone, distinguish if the feeling or thought that is on their heart is from God?
Several points to consider:
God never contradicts himself. So, if he has put something on your heart, it must match what he has already put in his revealed will that we call the Word of God or the Bible.
In order to discern if that feeling or thought is from God and fits his Word, then it is super valuable to be regularly reading his Word so that you can spot an honest God-driven thought as compared to a personal desire or self-driven opinion. John 10 speaks about listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd; this is the Word of God.
Pay close attention to the thoughts in your mind and the little nudges that you may hear or sense. They can be a valuable way of God leading you BUT, ONLY if they match the Words of God.
Part of the point of the Nehemiah passage is to reassure us that God is working through Nehemiah. One particular commentator said that this passage speaks about God’s divine inspiration. It provides a good general rule of thumb: God speaks and works through leaders and prophets and priests, and has shared his insights with us [in the book of Nehemiah]. We can take comfort in knowing that these are God’s words specifically meant for us in the Bible because he has spoken through individuals. Nehemiah was one of those individuals.
As far as practical application for today, I can only speak from my own personal experience and tell you that there are times when something was “on my heart” and became a very real, pressing thought. I only consider it a nudge from God IF it fits his Word; if it doesn’t, I might as well call it gas or indigestion. About nine times out of ten, if I followed through with the thought after cross-checking it with the Bible, it has clearly been a blessing to an individual or a family or even to me personally (visiting a member in need, calling someone at just the right time, offering to help a person in distress).
Maybe the one thing I would add is that there are times when some Christians might be dismissing where God is leading their hearts: i.e. serving others, sharing his Word, being in worship more, seeking Jesus, sharing his love, building community.
My faith background taught me the valuable lesson of holding dearly to the Bible as the spoken truth directly from God himself. Anything that we feel God may be pressing on our hearts must line up with something that is said in the Word of God. I hope, that after reading this, of all things you could be doing today, you are being prompted to go and read your Bible and let God’s Spirit directly speak to you there. In the end, that will be a blessing to you and all the Kingdom of God.
Blessings to you.