Be Careful And Guard Your Heart Lest You Fall

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   9/25/2013

A wise man once said, "As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person." (Proverbs 27:19 NLT)

This importance of our heart- and what lurks within it- came to me afresh as I've found myself in stressful situations parenting my young children.

Was I a better, more controlled person prior to having children, when my demeanor was calm and unchallenged? I think not. I was always impatient-- this was always in my heart-- but the degree of my impatience simply was not tested as it is now.

Sometimes a test of our heart comes not so directly, but rather indirectly- from looking in on the experience of another. For example, say there's some truth to the rumors of a white-collar crime where you work. The story intrigues you, no doubt, and morals are difficult to pass up. And each tidbit you hear is often concluded by a "How could she?" or "My husband would never do that!"

Really? I quickly think of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall." 

Most people don't imagine themselves as weak and prone to become a mass-murderer. We'd rather see ourselves as strong. A little boy does not wake up and announce, "I'd like to grow up to steal," and a little girl doesn't dream of abusing her children. Most people aren't intentionally choosing these paths for their lives-- but through a series of choices and experiences, here they are.

It would be prideful for us to think that we could never be in those situations. Scripture often alarms us to the importance of watching how we think, what we say, where we go, and (indirectly) what we watch. Why? Because these are all windows to the heart- and the heart directs the rest of the person.

Jesus made this clear when he insisted that lust (in the heart) was as bad as adultery, and anger (in the heart) as sinful as murder (Matthew 6). Maybe He said this to turn our fingers around. Maybe He said it to point out the severity of our own sin, the fragileness of our hearts, and get us "spiritual" people to recognize how desperately we, too, need a savior. 

This truth was made clear in the moments when a woman, caught in the act of adultery, was dragged out to face Jesus in John 8. The crowd thought to stone her. Jesus simply said, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (NRSV) Ironically, Jesus was the only one without sin, yet he threw no stone. He was forcing the crowd to face their own sin, and one-by-one, they slowly walked away, leaving the stones behind.

I heard a story of a woman living today who had an extramarital affair and was repent fully seeking reconciliation with her husband. The community, however, wasn't very gracious. The rumors about her and the affair were a raging fire and were difficult to squelch.

Watching this unfold, I began to wonder: in the eyes of God, which is better-- one who sinned and is trying to make it right, or those who have sinned repeatedly with their mouths yet won't admit it?

Yes, we need to watch our hearts. Our reactions towards the sins of others offers a telescope to our hearts. Jesus also stated that those who don't forgive on Earth will not be forgiven by God in heaven (Matthew 6). I don't think the part about God not forgiving us is just a consequence of our forgiveness- but that the state of our heart is revealed when we don't forgive. If we haven't forgiven others, then do we really understand God's rich forgiveness toward us and the price He paid for it? Certainly, we will never have to forgive others as much as God has forgiven us. We will never be wronged more than we have wronged God. And we will never have to pay as high of a price as God did- the blood of His son- for reconciliation to take place. Is it possible that our unforgiveness is symptomatic of us not knowing God?

Truly, I'm reminded of my propensity to sin every day. This strengthens my grasp on my Savior and how very much I need Him! As situations come our way, may we examine our response, and thereby get a closer look at our heart.

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