“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!” – Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17
Have you ever played with Play-Dough? Have your kids? If you have any experience with Play-Dough, you know that it is only useful and can be shaped when it is soft and pliable. Once it becomes hard, it is brittle, and is useless. That’s a great analogy for the heart. The Bible has a lot to say about the heart.
“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Matthew 12:34)
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
“Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” (I John 3:15)
“But I say to you, anyone who stares at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
All sin begins in the heart. What is in our hearts will come out of us, in our actions, our words, our attitudes and our thoughts. There is no way around it. If we have bitterness, hatred, anger, pride, or resentment towards someone, it will come out of us. If we have compassion, grace, and mercy towards someone, it will come out of us, too. It all comes out, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Let me make it clear. We all have things in our hearts that need to be gotten rid of. If you hate someone, the Bible says you are a murderer. If you look on someone with lust, you are an adulterer (man or woman). If you are deceived, dishonest, and a liar, those things will come out of you. You may be able to wear that fake mask for awhile, but at some point, we all have to face what is in our hearts. God knows what is in our hearts. We may be able to fool other people, we may even be able to convince ourselves that we are a “good” person or a “Christian” person because we don’t do X,Y, or Z, but God rightly knows who we really are. We cannot fool him. The heart is deceitfully wicked. Notice those two words: deceitfully means that it misleads us or gives the appearance of being something it is not, and wicked means evil or sinful. Our hearts will deceive us and lead us astray if we are not careful.
I have had a glimpse into my heart lately, and I needed it. We all need it. We must confront the evil lurking inside of us, threatening to control us. If we don’t deal with what is in our hearts, we are in danger of losing our souls.
I have seen numerous people ruin their lives and the lives of others because they refused to look into their hearts. They refused to examine their words, actions, attitudes or thoughts. They didn’t check themselves. They didn’t ask themselves if the words they spoke showed anger or hostility or bitterness. They didn’t ask themselves if their thoughts showed warped and sinful thinking that was not in line with God’s word. They didn’t ask themselves if their actions were hateful or spiteful or hurtful. They didn’t ask themselves if their attitude was one of pride and arrogance or one of humility and brokenness. And, their lack of self-examination, their lack of honesty, destroyed their lives, the lives of others, and their souls. None of those sinful things are worth your soul, are they?
Sin is a cancer. The dark and ugly things in our hearts–anger, malice, jealousy, pride, bitterness–those are cancer. Unless those things are dealt with, they grow. At first, we may be able to “control” it, but at some point, we become its slave. It rules us; we cease to rule it. Satan is set on destroying you. He is a liar. He is determined to have your company in hell. That is his heart. That is his intention. What was in Lucifer’s heart before he was cast out of heaven? Pride. He wanted to be worshiped. He wanted to be a god. And, sadly, he is the god of many more people than we would like to believe. If God is not our God, Satan is our God. All the other little “g” gods we worship–power, money, sex, status, possessions, our children, our ego, our intellect–are cleverly disguised, but they are, in fact, the worship of Satan. If we worship ourselves, and not God, then the only other alternative is Satan. Every other road but God leads to Satan and to eternal damnation.
Our hearts, as manifested in what we say, what we do, what we think, and what we believe about ourselves and others, tell us what we worship. Are you always talking about money? Are you always talking ugly about someone? Do you despise someone? Are you always wanting more things? Do want another high?What are your desires? What drives you? “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
Don’t be afraid to come into the Light and let God show you what is in your heart. It is necessary, unless you are just kidding yourself and are playing Christian. Being a Christian takes work. We have to guard our hearts diligently. When we see bitterness or anger, for example, through something we have done or said, we have to pull it up and get rid of it. We have to exercise the fruits of the Spirit. We have to run the race. We have to walk in humility. Those things take work on a daily minute-by-minute basis. Your work as a Christian will not be complete until you pass into the other side of eternity.
If we don’t look at ourselves and examine our lives, we can become hard-hearted and calloused to the things of God, and that will ultimately be reflected in how we live our lives.
I have said it many times in this blog, and I am sure I will say it many more times because it bears repeating. Do the right thing. Be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Don’t worry about what the other person says or does. That is irrelevant. You don’t have to answer for them, but do you have to answer for yourself. Do you want to please God and have his approval? Or do you want to please yourself and others? If you want to please God and have his approval, you have to do it his way. If you are in unrepentant sin, stop! Turn away from it. If you have an offense against someone, forgive them, even if they don’t ask or you don’t think they deserve it. If you hurt someone, apologize. Be humble and stay humble. Keep your heart soft and pliable before God. When he shows you something in your life that you need to change or make right, be thankful for it because it means He loves you too much to leave you to your own devices. The Lord disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6).
What does God require of you? How does he want you to live? The answer is in Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. This is how you show God and others that you love Him: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). John 14:23 says, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” If you love God, obey Him, and don’t worry about what others do or say. Live to honor God. He will sort it out in his way and in his time. Let others mock you, ridicule you, insult you, call you names, hurt you, lie about you…It doesn’t matter. That’s a problem of their heart. Pray for them that they will allow God to teach them how to live.
I will make mistakes, and you will make mistakes, but we don’t have to stay down. We always have the choice to get back up and keep walking. But it requires humility, courage, and commitment.