Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Somebody once said that doing something over and over and over again is not hard work - it more of a habit than hard work. They would be right, of course, because repeated tasks doesn't mean we are working hard. I used to have an older friend who'd respond to the question, "Are you working hard", with the quip of "Nope, hardly working". He actually prided himself on 'carrying off' the image of working hard, but in reality he was doing quite the opposite! If there is one matter that requires both 'habit' and 'hard work', it would have to be this matter of our words and actions aligning all of the time. Having both of these be deemed to be 'pleasing' to the Lord is kind of a 'crap shoot' for many of us. We get it right some of the time, but in truth, we don't get it so right the rest of the time!

Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me. (Psalm 19:14)

The words of our mouths, combined with the thoughts of our hearts don't always 'match up', do they? Sometimes they are pretty close, but at others they can be ridiculously opposed to what God would desire in either our words or our 'heart thoughts'. The more we recognize our words actually betray what is in our heart, the sooner we might attempt to hide what is in our heart by changing the words to match what we think God would want to hear. The only problem with this is that we are 'working hard' to show that we have really adopted an attitude of hardly working when it comes to our spiritual walk! We get comfortable putting out the display of 'working hard' to allow things to change in our lives, all the while knowing we are really not working hard at all to see that change occur.

The thoughts of our heart don't happen by accident - every thought is something we choose to entertain or let go. There are lots and lots of thoughts that enter my mind each day, but very few make it to the level of my heart thoughts. Why? I have no need for those other thoughts to 'hang around' or to be of influence in my life. I don't like the way they make me feel, nor do I like the way they eventually make me act! It is hard work to filter out some of those thoughts, though. If I am going to have the type of heart thoughts that are pleasing to God, I need to take on the work of dismissing the other ones that are less than honoring. I just can't appear to be working hard - I actually have to do the hard work!

The good news is that we are not 'toiling' alone in this matter of keeping our thoughts pure and 'right on' with God's thoughts. We have been given the Holy Spirit, scripture, and even each other to help us in this work. Scripture helps us check our thoughts against the 'source book', of sorts. It is like checking and rechecking the 'assembly instructions' for a highly complex project. We go to scripture to see if that thought actually 'belongs' in the assembly of our lives. Heart thoughts become the building blocks - the assembled pieces - by which we take actions and speak forth either life or death from our lives. Assembling the right pieces in the right order makes all the difference in the 'finished product', doesn't it?

We are given the Spirit of God living right inside of us, not so much so he can 'keep score' of our good thoughts and our bad ones, but so we can understand when a thought will begin to eat away at the goodness God is working to produce within us. Those gentle 'niggling' impressions aren't just there because God wants us to 'feel guilty' when we are entertaining the wrong thoughts, but because God doesn't want those thoughts to find an inroad into our heart. When a thought reaches the heart level, it becomes the basis by which we form habits and we all know how habits begin to direct our actions. With each of these 'helps' in place, God also gives us good friends to help us recognize when we are merely giving the impression of walking close to God, or are really doing the work of getting closer. Just sayin!

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