Think about all the elaborate strategies we use to conceal what's really going on inside of us. We've even come up with a phrase that describes one of those strategies. It's called “putting your best foot forward.” Sound familiar?
Just this week I was in a conversation with someone, and I wanted so badly to hit the eject button. I just wanted to stay hidden. I didn't want him to know that I was hurting, let alone weak. What was I doing? I was putting my best foot forward. I wanted Dave to think I had it all together; that I was strong; that everything's okay. But evasion never works. It doesn't fix anything. And yet so often it's our default method for avoiding difficult or painful conversations. Neglecting what's wrong never fixes what's wrong.
I'm more and more convinced that a significant part of becoming a mature follower of Jesus is owning the junk that pollutes our hearts and then dealing with it as decisively as we know how. And dealing with it never happens in isolation, but always in the company of someone else.
The Bible's so clear on this, and yet we resist being vulnerable about our brokenness. We resist confessing our sins to each other. We hope that our addiction to pornography will just go away if we install an internet filter on our laptop. We hope that our angry outbursts will disappear if we try to be more patient. We hope that our friends will think we have it all together if everything looks good on the outside. But deep down we know there's something missing, that something's not quite right.
The condition of our hearts — what's really going on inside of us — shapes who we become and what becomes of us. The heart calls the shots; it's the director of the movie that is your life. If your heart's sick or damaged, it'll show up in the way you live. The things you say, the choices you make, the strategies you use to keep the reality of who you are hidden, all reveal what's going on inside your heart. Jesus made this so clear for us when he said,
…out of [our] hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark 7:21, NIV)
Jesus paints a pretty disturbing picture: If I'm angry, lustful, envious, arrogant, deceitful, slanderous, foolish, it's just overflow; it's a snapshot of who I really am. It's an indication of what's really going inside me. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to live my life as an angry, lustful, envious, arrogant, deceitful, slanderous, foolish person. I want Jesus to change me. I want the Spirit's good fruit to grow freely. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control are so much better — so much more beautiful and attractive — than their opposites.I want my life to take on a kind of significance that can't be measured by bank statements or balance sheets or the kind of boat I have docked down at the marina. You probably do, too. That can only happen as we pay attention to our hearts and surrender our lives, every aspect of them, to God. As we do, we are conformed more and more into the image of Christ.