9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." - Jeremiah 17:9-10
Jeremiah understands what we all need to grasp a little better - sin starts in the heart. Sin doesn't exist on the outside, it exists on the inside. And if we're ever going to recognize a difference in our lives, we have to allow the Spirit to do the hard work of cleaning out our heart.
The truth is, our hearts are not naturally open to criticism. None of us like to be confronted or questioned. It’s why our defenses rise when accused - even if there is truth in the accusation. We will work hard to defend our position or our reputation, and convince others of our righteousness rather than humbly listening to what others have to say. If we have been misjudged or misunderstood, we will pull out our catalog of righteous acts in defense of ourselves, proving we only have the best of intentions.
We also have a tendency to see others wrongs more easily than we see our own. We confront others with things we excuse in ourselves, seeing our wrongs as less wrong, and convince others of our own righteousness. Self righteousness is more natural for us than humility.
Our trials exist because of sin outside of us. We want it to be the other person’s fault, so we point the finger and play the blame game. We tell anyone who will listen: I am in this situation because of him, because of her. If it wasn’t for their sin, I wouldn’t be suffering.
You are in this trial for you, because God wants to root out something that lives in your heart that is separating you from Him. He wants you to see something you have not been able to see. Yes, it’s true - you may have been sinned against, and that is what launched you into this trial...but here me when I say this: the reason you remain in his trial is because of the sin that lives in you.
It takes a powerful redeeming grace to break through the hearts of stone and self-righteousness that live inside of us. We don’t want to see that we have any responsibility in this. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, will continue to allow these challenges in our lives until we do see. When you have been brought to the place where you humbly cry out the words, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, when you are ready to confront your own sin, when you are thankful for the loving people God has brought into your life that help you to see your sin, you know you have been visited by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. None of these attitudes are natural apart from His Spirit living in us.
It takes grace to let go of our excuses, our rationalizations, our shifting blame, and our self-righteous arguments. God sent His Son for more than just changed behavior, He sent His Son to die for us so that we would have a new heart. So if you’re willing to ask God to show you your heart, you know you have been visited by His divine grace. Ask Him today to reveal your sin in your trial, then fall to your knees and beg forgiveness.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗