Again, move slowly… assess the situation… ask God questions. What is this Lord? Why is this? Do you want me to move or stay put? Should I say something or just listen? This is the prayerful way of a Warrior…living curiously. It is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I used to believe this wasn’t possible, now, through dialog with God, I’m coming around!
Remember, the false-self/flesh moves quickly, it reacts rather than responds. Many moments a man will be invited to think or say things that are not true or to judge himself or others harshly. Critical are the moments when a man sees, hears, and asks God for help, instruction and direction. Jesus did this; everything He said and did was in harmony and alignment with the Father. Jesus knew where people’s hearts were, often because He asked. He knew their motives and their hopes, if they were with him or against him. He lives in us. The Holy Spirit wants to guide, counsel and teach a man if that man will let Him.
It just doesn’t make sense to tell men Sunday after Sunday that they are “sinners” and that they are the problem. Telling folks they have wicked hearts and chastising them for sinning…what is the point of that? If I have a sinful, wicked heart, doesn’t it make sense that sin will be my normal? If I act in accordance with what they say I am, a wicked-hearted sinner, then what is the big deal when I sin? But if I am something else, something more, then it really is a big deal.
Expectations follow ability and with ability come expectations. Either I have the ability to live this Life Christ has saved me in which to live or I don’t. Peter, James, John and Paul all write their letters to first century believers as if we can get better, and have the equipment within us to get better. The old heart of stone (Jeremiah 17:9, Ezekiel 11:19) is replaced, the Father has given His sons new ones (Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 18:31); our center has been made noble and good (Luke 8:15)…now we are to go and learn how to live from what is good within us. Weekly bashings aren’t going to be helpful, telling a man he is less. The invitation is to become more and He gives us the equipment to be exactly that!
Don’t get me wrong here. Paul, Peter, James and John have plenty to say about “drifting away, making poor choices, and compromising the truth of the Gospel for performance and achievement”. They address this death of grace by warning about the performance incentives to the Gospel the Judizers or Gnostics or other religious salesmen were selling. The apostles say it just about the same way in each letter they write:
What are you doing… don’t do that, you used to do that because you couldn’t help it, that is who you were, now you can help it, that’s not who you are now. Now you are _________! Therefore…
Just fill in the blank: Sons, overcomers, righteous, holy, co-heirs, accepted, worthy, redeemed, complete, chosen, righteous… they all write that we are more, especially Paul. He goes as far as to say we are ever increasing!
And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP)
And why wouldn’t we have a glory? God does. His starts with a capital “G”: ours, those who bear His image and are becoming more and more like him, ours starts with a small “g”, glory. “Chips off the ol’ block… the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…we have our Father’s… image! The word glory simply means, the weightiness, grandness, the splendor of a thing… it’s glory and the sons of God have one!
This glory is held in our hearts and to be demonstrated in our actions and words, in how we love one another. Our glory is the true me and the true you. The glory of our life, our true self wants to burst out, bear fruit, be offered and be experienced by others and the world. Our glory is meant to be shared. Gifts entrusted to each man for others. Not using our glory or it being used but free. Using and loving have nothing to do with one another. I don’t use my kids and I don’t believe God uses His. He shares his Life with us, bestows His love on us and takes up residence in our hearts making us alive in Him. That is why the heart is both core and central! John Eldredge writes in his book, Waking the Dead,
The heart is central. That a man needs to be reminded of this only shows how far we have fallen from the life we were meant to live-or how powerful the spell has been. The subject of the heart is addressed in the Bible more than any other topic-more than "works" or "serve," more than "believe" or "obey," more than money and even more than worship. Maybe God knows something we've forgotten. But of course-all those other things are matters of the heart. Consider but a few passages:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
Jesus called this the greatest of all the commandments (Luke 10:27) and notice that the heart comes first.
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverb 3:5
Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 NASB
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9