Desires of our Heart

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Question: Will we be judged by the desires of our hearts as well as by our works?

Answer: In Jesus’ day, many people assumed that the publicans, or tax collectors, were dishonest and stole from the people. So because Zacchaeus, the chief publican, was wealthy, he may have been even more suspect. But Jesus looked on Zacchaeus’ heart.

Luke 19:1-10

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans (the chief of the tax collectors), and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was (tried to get where he could get a view of Jesus); and could not for the press (because of the crowd), because he was little of stature (short man).

4 And he ran before (ran ahead), and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he (Jesus) was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide (stay) at thy house.

Note: Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ heart, and wanted to reassure him of his worth to God.

6 And he made haste, and came down (out of the tree), and received him (Christ) joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation (if I have mistakenly collected more taxes than I should from anyone), I restore him fourfold (I pay him back four times what I took).

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house (I have come to this house), forsomuch as he also is a son (descendant) of Abraham (is of the House of Israel).

10 For the Son of man (I, Christ) is (have) come to seek (find) and to save (teach) that which was lost (those of the House of Israel who desire to hear My words and to live righteously).

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David A. Whetten:

Certain Greeks approached Philip one day in Jerusalem. Presumably they had heard about the Savior from others, and, impressed by what they had heard about him, they now desired to spend some time with him. They wanted to get to know him personally. “Sir,” they requested, “we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21.)

Sooner or later, every person who has ever lived on earth will be given a knowledge about the divinity of Jesus Christ. The scriptures tell us that when he comes the second time, the signs of his divinity will be so overwhelming that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” that Jesus is the Christ. (D&C 88:104.)

But knowledge about him is not enough. The knowledge that saves comes from our personal efforts to develop a close companionship with the Lord through prayer and the desire of our hearts.

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The Savior declared: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.) Notice the wording. We gain eternal life by knowing God and Jesus Christ, not by knowing some things about them. It seems to me that there is a great difference between these two types of knowledge. This difference is exemplified in the testimony of Paul to the “learned” Greek philosophers worshiping at an altar to their “unknown God.” Paul declared: “Ye men of Athens, whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:23.) While the God of these men was unknown to them personally, Paul bore a powerful and convincing testimony of the existence of his God based on his personal, first-hand knowledge. Clearly, we should seek to emulate Paul’s intimate relationship with his God.

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“The greatest and most important of all requirements of our Father in heaven and of his Son Jesus Christ,” said Brigham Young, “is … to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek to him, cling to him, make friends with him. Take a course to open and keep open a communication with … our Savior.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:339) ...

Four attributes of Jesus, inferred from his dealings with others, have indicated to me the Lord is someone whose close friendship I should earnestly cultivate.

The first attribute is the Savior’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Because he knew the desires of people’s hearts and their inner, spiritual qualities in his own day, he frequently befriended the outcast who was scorned by his fellowmen. In selecting those who would comprise the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Jesus did not go to the homes of royalty or to the imposing chambers of the Sanhedrin, but rather to simple fishing boats by the seashore and to the desk of a despised tax collector.

One of my favorite examples of the Savior’s intimate knowledge of a person, and his kindness toward him, is the story of Zacchaeus. As Jesus entered the town of Jericho in the course of one of his journeys, a little man by the name of Zacchaeus desired to see him, and possibly deep in his heart he longed to spend some time with Jesus. Because he was so short, he decided to climb a sycamore tree overlooking the road for a better view. As Jesus came down the path, probably exchanging greetings with people on either side, he suddenly stopped, and looking up into the tree where the little fellow was perched, he called out, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” (Luke 19:5.) What a special honor for this man who was wealthy, chief among the publicans, and who consequently had undoubtedly received much scorn and abuse in his community. (SeeLuke 19:7.)

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“But,” you might think, “that was when Jesus was on the earth. Does he really know us that well today from his distant position in the heavens?”

Listen to the Lord’s words to a congregation just 150 years ago, in 1831, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“Behold and hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts I know, and whose desires have come up before me.

“Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you.” (D&C 67:1–2.) ...

A second and related characteristic of the Savior is his ability, because of his own experiences, to empathize with all of our difficulties and trials. The Savior knows what it is like to be tempted, distraught, afraid, ridiculed, and abused; and consequently he has great compassion for others.

We know that he experienced what some have referred to as the most intense form of human suffering, loneliness...Certainly his loneliness, in terms of companionship with other mortals, was most intense during his ordeal in the Garden of Gethsemane....

Jesus’ life prepared him to have compassion for others. We have many examples of the compassion shown by the Savior. On one occasion he was traveling with his disciples in a ship on the Sea of Galilee, and a mighty wind came up, threatening their safety. The disciples expressed their fears, crying out, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Showing great compassion for their human frailties, the Savior calmed the storm. (Mark 4:35–41.)

His great compassion for us can be a source of comfort when we are tempted and wonder if we are worthy of his great love and trust...The late Elder Hugh B. Brown, of the Council of the Twelve, said: “Very frequently I have felt I could reach up and take hold of God’s hand. He has been so close, so gracious, so willing to respond to my request and to help me over the rough places.” (Church News, 6 Dec. 1975, p. 3.)

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A third characteristic that should motivate us to draw closer to the Savior is his deep, abiding, perfect love for us. The greatest evidence of his love was his willingness to die for us. Realizing the significance of one man’s volunteering to suffer great pain in order that his brothers and sisters would not have to suffer similar pain, Paul exclaimed,

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38–39.)

What a powerful testimony of Christ’s willingness to pay any price to aid us in our quest for eternal happiness! Indeed, the essence of godhood is the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. Clearly this was exemplified in the life and teachings of the Savior...

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A fourth characteristic is one which separates him from all others: his divine power. Christ not only is deeply interested in our personal development, but also has the power to do something about it, he has the power to change lives. Undoubtedly, we have all read stories of how the Lord has literally transformed people almost overnight, like Paul and Alma. But often the small, unheralded, everyday examples of the miracle of conversion are easier to relate to...

What a powerful friend, this man of Galilee! Who else knows us so intimately, has done so much to prove his love for us, has demonstrated his capacity for compassion and understanding, and also has the divine power to help us change our lives? Who, therefore, should be more sought after as our intimate companion and true friend?

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Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 74; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 229-230; Excerpts from Ensign, October 1978, “Sir, We Would See Jesus” by David A. Whetten, a professor at the University of Illinois; Art of the Savior by Simon Dewey