A few weekends ago I talked about how, according to Jesus, our words reveal what is in our hearts. I had lots of interesting responses from folks who were courageous enough to listen to their words for a week because, as they did, they made surprising discoveries – about the blackness resident in their own hearts. When they became self-aware and took responsibility for their words and the roots of their words, they uncovered greed, anger, guilt and more. Ugh!
Thankfully, Jesus does not leave us without an answer to what we uncover. Either directly from His own lips or through the New Testament writers, He provides things to do to break the bondages of the stuff in our hearts. However, as we have seen before, the answers we are given often are counterintuitive (which in laymen’s terms can be translated, ridiculous). Consider the following:
To break the power of greed…..give without conditions. (Mark 10: 17-23)
To break the power of anger…..forgive (even thought the offender has not apologized) (Ephesians 4: 31-32)
To break the power of guilt…..confess to the person you owe (not just God, not just a pastor but the actual person you offended) (James 5:16a)
To break the power of…..well, there are many more but I think you get the idea.
We want changing our hearts to be easy and immediate. “Dear Jesus, I’m sorry for what I have done. Please change my heart so I will no longer be [greedy, angry, guilty, jealous, etc]. If You will just do that Lord, then I can be [giving, peaceful and calm, self-confident, etc]. Amen.”
Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…..and you will find rest for you souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Not “poof” but “pull”. Thankfully we are not left to pull alone – unless we choose to do things our own way. Then I sense Jesus simply slips out from under the yoke and walks alongside us as we struggle along, gently saying, “Just let me know when you want to do it my way (give, forgive, confess, etc) and I will get back under the yoke with you.”
I often remind folks of the need to defer to Jesus during ministry sessions because He is the smart one in the room – even when we do not fully understand why He says what He says.