I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I let my heart do whatever the heck it wants.
I freely and willingly let it have its way.
Left unchecked, I will let it harbor unforgiveness, embrace anger, bathe in victimhood, and become hardened to empathy and compassion. And then I will give my heart a voice, let its musings control my mouth and use my words as a weapon to hurt the people I love.
Crazy enough, in the midst of all this, I can look at the world around me and roll my eyes at it’s waywardness. Yet, I fail to realize that I too, have a heart that bends to do the very things that hurt the heart of God and the heart of other people.
Like when I…
- Utter a jab at another person behind their back with a smile on my face
- Tear down another person in my mind to make myself feel bigger– and better
- Care more about “accurate theology” than loving people like Jesus did
- Yell at my spouse
- Worship my stuff instead my God
- Spend hours perfecting my reflection without reflecting on my heart
Blinded to Our Waywardness
There’s an eye-opening passage in Jeremiah that speaks to this phenomenon of gawking at a wayward world without checking for waywardness in our own souls. In the book of Jeremiah, the nation of Israel (God’s chosen people) replaced their worship and adoration of God with the worship of manmade idols. This is the same nation of people that watched God split seas, deliver them from their oppressors, provide food for them when there was no hope for any, and promised to prosper them if they obeyed His way.
Their devotion to the One True God slowly drifted into a spiral of bad decisions. These people began giving their hearts the freedom to eat, sleep with, devour, oppress and worship anything that would give them immediate gratification.
Jeremiah was appointed as a prophet, a spokesman, to these people. He proclaimed that destruction and judgement was coming if they did not repent and turn back to God. Now, there are 52 chapters in this book, so you can imagine Jeremiah’s weariness in speaking repetitively to a people who just wouldn’t listen.
In confusion and frustration, he cried out to God and said:
You will be righteous, Lord, even if I bring a case against you. Yet, I wish to contend with you… Why does the way of the treacherous prosper? You are ever on their lips but far from their conscience. As for you, Lord, you know me; you see me. You test whether my heart is with you. – Jeremiah 12:1-3, CSB
First of all, I love the way Jeremiah confesses the infinite sight of God in his life. He knows that he is seen and known by God. He is fully aware that God will test his heart, his motives, and his emotions and see what they reveal. While he is upset with the waywardness of the world, Jeremiah still makes the declaration that his heart can be in need of a “check” too.
And I think this verse shows us a great model of prayer to ask God in any situation of our lives.
Are You With Me?
Like I said in the beginning, there are times when our emotions get the best of us, and we let our hearts react in ways we know are destructive. However, we give ourselves an excuse to act certain ways because of our heightened emotions. We think we deserve to act that way because of the offense.
Yet in those moments, we can ask God, who knows us and sees us, to test our hearts and confront us with the question: In this moment am I with God? Am I on His side about this? Am I in agreement with how HE treats people? How HE loves people?
Because if the answer is no, the scarier question is: who AM I in agreement with? My flesh? (Which will lead me to destruction). The enemy? (Who aims to destroy myself and others?)
So when I’m yelling at my spouse or a friend-– are my words in alignment with what God thinks about them?
When I’m secretly jabbing another person or ripping them up in my head— am I in agreement with what God says about them? Or am I siding with what the enemy says about them?
When I’m worshipping my stuff and hoarding my wealth— who then, am I saying matters above everything else?
And when I really think about it, I just don’t want be in opposition to Him. I don’t want to end up on ANY side but His. In the heat of the moment, when I wanna TURN on someone who is irking my insides, I don’t want to be in opposition to His will, His ways, or His plans.
Because truthfully, whatever side I decided to choose that day, I can guarantee that if it ain’t God’s, it ain’t good.
Y’all I Need Jesus
But let’s be real: if left to our own devices, willpower and effort, we will fail at this. Miserably.
The truth? I am more jacked up than I thought I was. I know I need to do the right thing, the Godly thing, and I can’t. Not in my own will power. So instead of looking at the world thinking’ “Y’all need Jesus”, I need to realize that I NEED HIM. I need a daily reminder that I will side with my flesh 100% of the time without the Spirit of God yankin’ my chain.
This isn’t about moral behavior modification. This is about relying on the Spirit for sanctification.
Luckily, we aren’t hopeless. Christ is our hope, and He has placed the Spirit of God inside of us to lead us. Romans 8: 9-11 leaves us with this amazing relief:
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
The Spirit of God tests our hearts and reminds us what God says. He both reminds and helps us stay in agreement with God’s heart.
So the next time you find yourself with words on the tip of your tongue, with eyes ready to roll to the back of your head: Here’s a prayer to utter to the Helper in these times:
Lord, you know me and you see me. You test whether my heart is WITH YOU in this moment, or not. God, if I am not in agreement with you in this area, change my heart. Bring me to repentance and help me see like you see.