Skip to main content

Make me a little less crooked, please!

"What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains." (Tennessee Williams) Williams sure hit that one square on the head, didn't he? The human heart is probably one of the most "un-straight" things in this world! Jesus said to his disciples one day as they were considering their heart's affections that the human heart can be found in the same locale as one's greatest treasures. "Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice—don’t undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets.  Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21 VOICE)  In considering the human heart, Jesus undertakes to explain a few things our hearts struggle with on a pretty regular basis. In considering these things this morning, let's just reflect upon how he develops this conversation with his disciples.

But when you do these righteous acts, do not do them in front of spectators. (vs. 1) It was the custom of the religious of the day to make a "show" of giving to the poor, showing how much they gave in the offering at church, and the like. It was as though they wanted their "good works" to show as a sign of their "true devotion" - but all the while their heart was betraying them, revealing the underlying pride at the center of their actions. As Jesus begins this discussion, he reminds us how "curved" our heart can become toward taking center-stage. If left to our own devices, we might all just have to admit we want to be noticed when we do "good stuff", but as Jesus said, that "notice" we receive from our fellow man will become our only reward. God rewards in secret - when the heart connection is made between him and us, secretly showing us how very much he is pleased with us and drawing us even closer to him.

Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose—for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him. (vs. 8) When the heart is curved toward the wrong "bent" in life, our prayers can be anything from hollow to self-seeking. They can become a "chore" we undertake, rather than a place of connection with God himself. We may not know this, but our prayers reveal more about our heart's focus than we may actually realize. If our prayers are a burden and a laborious task we undertake, they may reveal we have wandered a little too far from the heart of Jesus. If they are "big and wordy and kind of lofty", they may reveal we either don't feel comfortable talking with Jesus, or that we are still struggling with a little bit of that pride thing. Our prayers are to be genuine, for God already knows the "bent" of our heart and he wants to "unbend" it in these times when we just get honest with him in sharing what is in that heart of ours!

If you forgive people when they sin against you, then your Father will forgive you when you sin against Him and when you sin against your neighbor.  But if you do not forgive your neighbors’ sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (vs. 14-15) The heart is also the place of relationship - the place where we either treasure up the good in others, or form the most awful batches of resentment and bitterness known to mankind. It is in forgiving others we find the path to forgiveness in our own lives. Jesus has no greater mission for us than to be agents of reconciliation on this earth. To store up all manner of unforgiveness is just not God's way, and it makes our heart tremendously "curved" toward all manner of evil intent and malicious action.

- No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second, or vice versa. People try to serve both God and money—but you can’t. You must choose one or the other. (vs. 24) As he winds down the discussion about the "curvature of the human heart", Jesus reminds us of the tendency of the heart to think it can juggle more than one focus in this life. It is as though we think we can dabble a little in this or that, then stay on track with the path of righteousness we are asked to walk, but in reality there is but one focus we can truthfully maintain. We might keep a lot of stuff in our "periphery", but that should never be Jesus! Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

Your full attention, please

My mother frequently uses the term "Listen to me!" as a way of getting my attention so that I actually stop, pay close attention, and hear out whatever her idea or issue is at the moment. It isn't always at the most convenient moment, nor is it always easy for her to get out whatever it is she wants to share. Yet, it is important enough for her to ask to for me to hear it, so I respond with, "I'm listening, mom", and she begins.  It isn't said in anger or in a moment of disappointment. Rather, these words are usually spoken in a "sing-song" manner, but with very specific intent - they are intended to get me to REALLY listen to what she was saying. Why? Because she knows she has something to say even if it is getting harder for her to say it! She has walked through much already, learned many lessons, and has the advantage of experience on her side, but the disadvantage of advancing age makes it harder and harder for her to actually form those t…

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…