Thought for the Week - 21st March
Hebrews 3: 12-13
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Over the last couple of weeks, in our bible studies, we’ve been thinking about integrity. Integrity is about meaning what we say and saying what we mean. More than that, we have integrity when there is truth in our hearts.
What we say, what we do is formed by what’s in our hearts
Jesus says what comes out of our mouths is an overflow of what’s in our heart. We like to think that we’re rational, that we think all of our reactions and decisions through and our brains are in control. But we don’t have to think about it very long to realise this isn’t true: we always have a gut instinct before our minds kick in. Our hearts lead and our mouths and our minds follow.
And those gut reactions can shine a light into what’s going on in our hearts. We can have pangs of fear, doubt or worry. Perhaps we have anger, pain or restment. Our solution in these situations might be to pretend it’s not there or to push it down. But is that what Jesus wants?
What is in our heart can bind us and it can blind us
The writer to the Hebrews tells us to guard our hearts from becoming sinful or unbelieving. It’s a basic truth of our relationship with Jesus that sin in our hearts causes us to turn away from Him. But more than that, it hardens us. It binds us. If our hearts are hard, what does that mean for what comes out of our mouth? The same is true of unbelief; sometimes we can just feel a sense of hopelessness. Or perhaps we just feel our hearts draw away from Him, like we just can’t face Him.
The writer to the Hebrews gives us this response: encourage one another. I think that’s really interesting. It is so easy to do and yet we can find it so difficult to practise.
The writer tells us to guard against sin’s deceitfulness: it lies and blinds us to the truth. Our fear or our resentment can be like a black hole: it sucks everything into it and becomes so dense that it bends light: reality itself around it. We can all think of examples of people where they’ve got something against someone, or they’re full of self pity. No matter what happens, they will see someone’s actions or a situation through the lens of that restment or self pity. A black hole lets nothing escape, but with Jesus, we have a way out.
Our only hope is to open every part of our hearts to Jesus
Jesus calls us to choose life: to open every part of our hearts to Him and to let His light shine in. We can give thanks: for a person has hurt or offended us. We can pray for them. We can praise God in the middle of a situation, lifting our eyes onto Him.
How often do we just sit in His presence and just unload? Corrie Ten Boom compares it to opening a handbag and leaving every tiny thing drop out of it and then leaving it there. Leaving it there can be the difficult bit!
That’s why Jesus also calls us also to choose death. CS Lewis puts it like this: “something inside us, resentment, getting your own back must simply be killed. You can’t decide not to feel it any more but every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year we must hit it on the head”. We can say the same for self pity, for hopelessness, for worry.
Our minds and our mouths flow from our hearts. If we are struggling with our thoughts or our words, the source of the problem lies in our heart. This is why we must allow the light of Jesus to shine into every part of it. Not trying to hide or justify or reason it out. Instead, we take every pain, evey ache, every discomfort to Jesus on the cross. We nail it there and He takes it.