Ingredients for a Miserable Heart
Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
Follow Jesus or don’t. I think some Christians are so unhappy because they still want to do what they want to do. And the reality is that they are free to do whatever they want to do. But if they want Eternal Life, if they want Jesus’ life, if they want real joy, if they want to stop having a pit in their stomach, then they must - we must always- obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
I had a conversation with a lady the other day. She was legitimately being pestered by other adult family members and instead of leaving the argument that had risen, she returned in kind, and let them verbally have it. Oh, no! was my first response because of 1 Peter 3:9 -Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Still, everyone has been in a situation like hers where we let ourselves explode; I could relate. BUT her rationale behind it caught my attention. “I had to. I knew it wasn’t right. But I just had to do it.”
And there’s the problem. We can’t excuse doing stuff we know isn’t right based on present feelings and circumstances. When one knows what Jesus wants them to do, doesn’t do it, and then makes excuses for it, they’ve assembled the perfect ingredients for a miserable and bitter heart because mixed in with that hot mess will be the consequences of their actions like the loss of a relationship, career, or opportunity.
The Bible tells us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23. Usually I think of guarding my heart as the process of keeping myself away from certain things, but sometimes I have to guard it from my own stinky ideas and especially from self-justification. If I’ve offended someone, it’s time to apologize no matter what kind of day I’ve had. If I have wronged someone, I need to make it right immediately and not wait until I feel like circumstances are favorable. When we are talking about willful sins there will never be favorable circumstances because we have an inherent distaste for going back to the place where we know we did something wrong. So, mostly people avoid revisiting the subject and just move on pretending like nothing happened.
But without the humbling experience of repenting, the heart learns nothing. That very truth about repentance is what makes us Believers in the first place. A person who will continue justifying NOT doing what Jesus says time and time again will eventually wonder how they got so far away from Him. But when such a person won’t obey his commands (because they just have to give someone a piece of their mind), won’t listen to his voice (because they believe they have a really good reason not to), and won’t cling to him (unless they’re scared or in trouble), they also won’t have much of Jesus because they have put themselves far away from Him.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I don’t want to be far from you because of stubborn self-justification. You are the way for me to have Life and it doesn’t include that. Help me to obey, listen, and cling today. I love you so much and I know that YOU are my Defender as well my Source of Joy so I do not have to follow and obey my feelings and emotions or circumstances. I love you and thank you for what you require of me, and I pray in your name, amen.