I figure if God is working on me, there are others God may desire to do the same thing. Reflection and meditation has it’s benefits and challenges.
To know the condition of our heart, we must consider seriously two things: 1) What we think, 2) What we say.
Before we speak, we think. What is in our heart IS what comes out of our mouth. That troubles me because it is written, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). It is possibly because of this that the Psalmist prays in 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
I have to battle constantly… Not to be critical, to only say what is positive and encouraging, to keep my words through which many are defiled, nor do I want to be a stumbling block (particularly) by what I say. I don’t want my words to wound, harm, or cause hurt to anyone (God give me the strength).
But alas… some of the things I think (That I’m trying to crucify) prove that there is still residual sin in me. The Holy Spirit has been using Scripture to show me my constant need to meditate upon Scripture so as to crucify the flesh. Consider the Scriptures the Holy Spirit has been using (Pull your toes back… the Holy Spirit may step on them):
Matthew 12:34 Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Comment: So what I say IS what is in my heart?! Ouch.)
Matthew 12:36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (EVERY careless word? Really? Ouch.)
James 3:8 But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (Ouch)
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (Really? ……)
Romans 8:1 (“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”) does not give me a license to say whatever I want. No… I am to cooperate with The Spirit to rid myself (My heart) of all ungodliness. This is called the process of sanctification. The antidote for sin sickness is meditation upon God’s Word. So I close with Psalm 119:11…
Thy Word have I hid in my heart so that I may not sin against God…
This is something that we all need to hear. Thank you for being YOU.
I’ve read many of your posts, and found them of great value, but this is the one that touches me most closely!
I have always been something of an outsider: I observe humanity, note the words and actions of the people around me, and even when I’m not openly and harshly critical, I am frequently THINKING harshly critical things…
Much of this is, indeed, deeply sinful, breaking Jesus’ injunction to treat others as I would wish to be treated. Still, not ALL criticism is evil — in particular, when it comes from a Pastor!
The question is not “Am I harboring disapproval, or criticism in my heart?” Rather, the question should be “What are my motives in thinking these things?”
Correction, criticism, and disapproval may arise from a loving heart, and be offered gently with the intent to be of help. It is when such thoughts arise from envy, spite, and other hurtful motives, that they become sinful. Truly, a spring cannot give forth both sweet and salt water; and a loving heart will not deal out hurtful remarks — though it MAY deal out thoughtless ones!
This latter is my greatest flaw: I have a bitter, acid sense of humor, and it frequently causes me to joke in ways that can be both hurtful, and offensive…
There is another side to this whole issue as well: how we HEAR things is as vital as how we SAY things … a bitter heart may LOOK for offense, when none was intended, hear a snide comment that was never meant to be so. A loving heart, in contrast, will hear things and look, not for offense, but for motive…
Thank you for your comment Scott. I hope you and others who read this know that it is impossible to deal with all the nuances of a thought like this so I especially appreciate your thoughtful reflections.
Without me getting wordy… I quickly flee to Romans 8:1, “There is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” When I’m convicted of my failures, I’m thankful that I’m forgiven (As are all who are in Christ). AND I’m thankful the Holy Spirit convicts me so that I can work to crucify those residual sins of mind and body. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
Bless you my friend! You are in my prayers…
Hi there, yes our hearts are the problem.
That is why we should welcome persecution and trials because it is the Lord applying pressure to our hearts to expose what is inside. Often time we run from the trials or try to rebuke them when we should be glad for it will bring us to a closer intimacy with Christ.
We often get mad when trials come, asking “why me?” and exclaiming “we don’t deserve this!” Yes we do. The very reason we are in the fire is because God is trying to show us just how wretched we are. He wants us to know that yes, we still need His grace. Even after salvation.
God will put us on trial to expose the things that are not like Him. He wants to bring out our self-righteousness. He wants to tear out that pride and selfishness. The only way to do it is through trials. Then we realize that we are sinners and NEED Him. We aren’t as holy as we thought so we are humbled and God can finally use us because we are not thinking of ourselves.
So the next time a church member gossips about us, the next time something happens that we didn’t “deserve,” the next time we don’t get noticed for our contributions…. Think of the fruit we are displaying and be grateful that God is exposing our lustful hearts. It isn’t about us but Him. He just needs to show us that.