Do you really want to know me? Listen to my heart… not my words!
Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” Luke 12:1-3.
Probably the hardest times I can remember while growing up were my teenage years… it’s was during those times when I learned that just because I thought I was an expert didn’t mean I was… it also didn’t mean that I could say anything I wanted to, or the way I wanted to. I learned that the hard way as I had a very strict father, dedicated to making sure we walked a rather straight and narrow path! It was during those hard years that I began to learn the meaning of consequences to decisions.
Over time, and through experience, hopefully, we begin to realize that in the real world, we need to monitor ourselves, lest we are destined to repeat the negative consequences of our words and actions. And part of that learning-through-experience process are the things we should and shouldn’t say in relationships, at our job, in school… part of the process of navigating through life. More practically, we develop a filter to prevent the ‘ugly’ from coming out and causing problems in our lives. But then, every once in a while, something goes wrong… we say or do something we didn’t mean to say or do, and wonder, “Where did that come from?” At one extreme, such behaviors may result in fractured relationships or the loss of a job, but at its root, we’re left wondering… what just happened?
Many will disregard the event as a random occurrence, but I believe that this confusing outburst is an indication of something much deeper than happenstance. That perhaps, what comes out through our words and our actions is an indicator of the real condition of our hearts… that the filter that we’ve spent our lives building and honing to monitor and screen the words and actions that pass through us is cloaking the dirtiness within our hearts, hiding those areas of our hearts that are corrupt. And why? Because we’ve failed in our efforts to follow the wisdom expressed by Solomon in Proverbs 4:23… “Above all else… guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Investing more energy and time in strengthening our filter is not the answer. Sure, patching the ‘hole’ in our complex filtering mechanism might buy us some additional “survival time” in life, but at some point, the ugly that is embedded in our hearts will find its way out… again, and again, and again. Luke 12:1-3 speaks directly to this… that “(n)othing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever we have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what we have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” The Message version of this passage, characterizing such behavior as hypocrisy, states “(y)ou can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day is coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”
So what is the answer? I believe that in addition to Luke 12, Matthew 15:18-20 speaks to what we need to focus on… our hearts… “But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart… it is from the heart that evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immortality, theft, lying, and slander come.” If we do not focus on guarding our hearts and fight to keep corruption from invading this critical connector to a God-focused life, it is only a matter of time before our complex filtering system is pierced, and our real selves revealed. So, since what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is going on inside of our hearts, we need to be working less on our man-made filters, which are capable of masking what is real, and more on guarding what God is more focused on… our hearts, where all of life springs from.
Heavenly Father… Your son Paul spoke those powerful, yet relatable words “for what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Father, this filtering system that we seem to be so good at cultivating is anything but a gift. And, while our filter has its place, focusing on it, rather than You, and making sure our hearts are clean and guarded, reveals our skewed view of our priorities. So, we ask You, Father… how’s our heart? Help us to learn to monitor and to guard our hearts better, so we can grow in You, so we can have Your life flow through us. Amen!