Heart Condition

Eyes are healing nicely. X-ray vision still doesn’t work and my ability to see the future is foggy at best. I am now able to finally “see that one coming”. The doctor said that the lame vision jokes should subside with time but there is a rare chance that they will be permanent. I think it was a pre-existing condition…

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:18-20

I’m reading Matthew and this was a verse that I clung to this evening. It made me ask the tough question “what is the condition of my heart?” Initially I felt a bit unprepared or unwilling to answer that question because all that came to mind was my bent towards selfishness and my tendency to boast. But as I wrote the question down I asked two more. After studying the verse and jotting down some observations I asked myself:

How do I talk to other people?
Am I encouraging or discouraging? Am I selfless or selfish? Am I humble or am I seeking attention? Do I know what I’m worth to God or am I seeking approval from others?

and

What are my consistent actions like?
Are they selfish or selfless? Are they boastful and proud or are they humble? Are they done out of anger or with grace and mercy? Are they done because I fear man or because I fear God?

I actually drew those sub questions as little continua (I had to look that up, the plural for continuum); they became tools that I can use to evaluate the condition of my heart. I can look at individual actions, thoughts, comments (all of which are indicators of my heart condition) as well as an entire day to see which way I’m leaning; which direction my heart is headed. Much better than my current method that measures my spiritual growth by how much or how little I’m sinning. It was seldom accurate and always led to false heights and very real depths. It’s kind of like a drunk measuring his sobriety – if he has gone 120 days without a drink but every ounce of his being craves alcohol, is he really free? Or if he has gone a year without a drink and relapses does that mean his progress was in vain?

With the “sin level” formula you’re either perfect or your not; and we’re not. We stumble and fall but as the great philosophers of Chumbawamba said “I get knocked down but I get up again, You’re never gonna keep me down”. So when we stumble and fall, we get up again and dwell in that reality that is God’s grace, mercy and love for us – in the fact that He is never surprised nor caught off guard when we sin. I think when we really start living in that grace then we finally allow God to change our hearts. Without grace I keep trying to “do better” and fail miserably every time. But on the days I remember who God is and who I am, there’s no room for guilt and shame or pride that tells me to “do better” – only a growing love and desperation for a God who loves me.