It is an incredible thing to witness a life-transformed. To walk with someone so long that you see them become essentially a different person. It’s also amazing to be the one who’s life is redeemed. In general, it’s an absolute miracle that any of us bring God glory with our lives. Especially given the nature of the human heart.
I used to have a real problem when people would tell me that people are bad by nature. It seemed unfair. Aren’t people just corrupted by their surroundings? When it came down to it, I just didn’t like being told that I had a sin problem that needed to be fixed. I doubt anyone likes being told they are broken in any way. The truth hurts. It’s one reason some people took up issue with Jesus. He confronted people directly with their sin problem.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:19 NIV
If our hearts are so full of horrible things, how do we have any hope whatsoever? How could a heart like this ever love God or bring Him glory? That’s the point of redemption…of the new creation…of Jesus. Humanity corrupted itself and day after day we add to the problem. We have no one else to blame but ourselves and none of us can ever hope to fix ourselves. The overabundance of self-help books (Christian and secular alike) out there would try to convince you otherwise. The only hope we have is surrendering ourselves to a force that can sometimes be difficult to grasp.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:3-6 NIV
Truth is, our desires are all out of wack. Besides those to love and protect and take care of those close to us. But even that can become unhealthy to the point where we value them above God. For the most part, we are the center of our desires. We want health over holiness, comfort over conviction, wealth over wisdom, and prosperity over progress. The things of God are a long shot from our deepest desires. Psalm 37 says the only way to change that is to make the Lord our delight. Not our safety and well-being. Not our career goals. Not retirement or a certain standard of living. Not recognition or personal goals. Nothing and no one can take the place of our greatest delight.
Here’s a convicting question that I heard someone ask a long time ago: would you be willing to give your life if the entire world could be saved? If the answer is anything other than yes, then God is not our greatest delight. The fact is, Jesus demonstrated God’s heart by doing that very thing. He surrendered His life, knowingly and willingly. For Jesus, the endgame is the redemption of a fallen world. For His followers, it should be no different.
My heart will never change until I make Him my number one desire. When that happens, the wickedness stated in Matthew 15 is replaced with a clean, wholesome, loving heart that wants to know God and make Him known more than anything. I’m not there yet, but in the famous words of the apostle Paul, I press forward. How about you?
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 ESV