Recently one of our guilty pleasures at my house has been watching America’s Got Talent. The production design of the show is criminally noisy and garish, a great example of sensory overload for the viewer.
But we enjoy watching people who have invested tremendous time and effort pursuing their talents. Any one of them could be a poster child for wholehearted pursuit of big goals. Their stories are inspiring.
Whether it is dance, song, sport, magic, or danger, each person really wants to be recognized for having achieved a level of excellence by working very hard at their given talent. I really enjoy watching people aim for their best and get rewarded for it.
Wholeheartedness goes beyond physical effort. It occupies the entire soul. It drives us beyond normalcy, mediocrity, or acceptance of limitations. Wholehearted people aren’t apt to make excuses. They take responsibility for their own path, whether it leads to success or failure.
Wholeheartedness goes way beyond the performing arts. Wholehearted people are found in business, education, ministry, and even politics (sometimes). Everywhere.
Please don’t misunderstand me, especially you Brené Brown fans—I’m a fan too. I’m not talking about perfectionism, or obsession, or a lack of self-worth that drives people to seek significance based only on their performance in life.
I agree with Brené when she defines wholeheartedness as cultivating courage, compassion, and connection, and in our vulnerability and imperfection, “daring greatly.”
Wholeheartedness, or having a whole heart, is also recognized in Scripture as a way of being and living that is commendable and honorable. It most often refers to a courageous commitment to following the righteous paths marked out by God, whatever the risks or costs.
The first people in God’s story described as wholehearted were Caleb and Joshua, two of the ten spies sent by Moses on a reconnaissance mission into the Promised Land. It was called the Promised Land because the land was promised to Abraham’s descendants as part of God’s covenant with him. Joshua and Caleb were the only spies whose hearts were allied with the God who made that promise. All of the rest trembled in fear and cowardice.
Joshua and Caleb were the only members of their generation who lived to experience the first steps into that land forty years later. Both were granted this moment of victory because they had “followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Deut. 1:36, Josh. 14:8). God had given them a mission, and they were wholehearted enough to take it on.
Joshua became the leader of Israel after the death of Moses. Caleb, a mighty warrior into his old age, was granted a large parcel of land in Judea after the land was conquered.
Here’s another illustration. When David was planning and providing for his son Solomon to build a temple to the Lord in Jerusalem, the people of Israel responded so generously that David had to tell them to stop giving! There was no more room to store the riches coming in, “for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord” (1 Chron. 29:9). David rejoiced. What leader wouldn’t rejoice at that kind of response to a building fund drive? These worshipers were all in on creating a sacred space to honor God.
Before his death, this was part of David’s instruction to Solomon:
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work” (1 Chron. 28:8-10).
Later, at the dedication of the completed temple, Solomon cried out,
“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.(1 Kings 8:23).
Solomon knew that the key to the kingdom is wholehearted devotion to the God who makes impossible things possible.
What is true of kings is also true of servants. And who are we? I can’t answer for you, but I am pleased to see myself as a servant. And “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
Interestingly, in Ephesians 6, Paul refers to wholeheartedness when addressing those who serve earthly masters. He exhorted them to serve with “respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Then, to amplify this idea, he pleaded,
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do…” (Eph. 6:5-8).
Everything we do, we dedicate to him. We don’t do it only to receive a reward, but it helps to know that we will be rewarded for our efforts if we do not quit.
It seems that wholeheartedness has everything to do with work! But it is not limited to certain types of work. It is applicable to:
Other___________________________ What do you write here?
These thoughts and Scriptures about wholehearted living challenge me with the questions,
Are you willing to do your work until the end? Will you put your hand to the plow and not look back? (Luke 9:62)
This is not about salvation. Salvation is a redemptive work of God’s grace in the heart of anyone who puts faith and trust in the Savior. It is about allowing the Lord to inspire wholehearted feats of strength, courage, and sacrifice in his name.
It is about reaching for the prize, like those contestants on AGT. But our prize is so much better than a million dollars and the applause of people. It is union with the fiery, passionate heart of the God of the universe, and hearing the applause of heaven.
“Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you…Be strong and do the work” (1 Chron. 28:10).