Counsel: Check your heart (1)
Scripture always has the answers. However, we are quick to ignore what it says and assume we know best what we should think, say and do. It’s easy to assume we have a clear picture on what we hear and see and can make the right analysis, assessment and judgment. It’s easy especially, when we think we know the other person well as in a family or friend. However, what does Scripture say?
Our hearts are deceitful. That may sound pretty harsh, but what does Scripture say? Jeremiah 17:9-10 says,
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:9-10)
Scripture says “the heart,” which refers to each heart in mankind. It is not referring only to the wicked people, the people on death row, or even the enemies of our country. It refers to the heart of all people, even good people. The heart is “deceitful above all things.” That means it will deceive others, but more importantly, our own hearts will deceive us. Paul alludes to that from Romans 7. He says,
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. (Rom 7:15-17)
Paul is telling us he doesn’t do what he wants to do and does what he doesn’t want to do. Why? There is a sin nature inside of every person and it is deceitful. The writer to the Hebrews warns about the deceitfulness of sin, “…exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13) The deceitfulness comes from the inner being and Jeremiah refers to that inner being as the heart. If my heart is deceitful, then I need to be aware of what comes out of my heart. Scripture also says we often judge.
We are easily prone to judging others. If we think we are right in our analysis, assessment and judgment, but don’t realize we have a deceitful heart, then we are prone to judge others. Jesus warned about this,
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4“Or how can you say to your brother,`Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)
When we are not a part of the solution (not in a discipleship or counseling team or parent or person in authority) we are not to judge others. However, there are times when God will direct that we help another person, but we must first deal with our own sin issue (plank from your own eye), and then be able to help another person. If you do not deal with your own sin issues, you will only compound the problem trying to help another person. You will likely be very self-righteous, judgmental, critical, impatient, unkind and hence ungodly. No Christian ever intends to do that. Fortunately there is hope. God gives us hope and a solution of how to address the problem.
Scripture says we often correct in an ungodly way. When you are ready to carefront (confront in a godly caring way) follow Paul’s exhortation. He writes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1) Paul is talking to believers, because he calls them “brethren.” The reality is, we will find ourselves in situations where people “cross the line of obvious sin (trespass).” We are to judge ourselves to ensure there is no sin (Matt. 7:1,5) and then carefront them in a specific way.
Paul exhorts that we carefront in a “spirit of gentleness.” The word means “power under control.” It is used of a war horse well-trained to understand the very light and sensitive movements of the rider with the bridle and pressures from his knees and heels to direct the horse on the battlefield. For the Christian, it is the Holy Spirit who directs the Christian in His power, rather than the Christian’s power. It is God’s power under the control of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the carefrontation is for the purpose of godly restoration, not just pointing out sin.
Then Paul exhorts to “consider yourself lest you also be tempted.” It is so easy to carefront someone and do it in a prideful way. Pointing out another’s sin is a fearful thing. Only God knows all the details. Only God knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Only God knows best how to convict of sin. So for a person to put himself in that position is a fearful step, although it must be done. Therefore, Paul says to carefront under the power of the Holy Spirit and keep examining self, lest you be tempted to act independently of the Lord and be in sin.
Why is carefrontation a fearful step? I’ll explain in tomorrow’s post.