Insights: The Heart of the Issue Part 5

This is Part 5 of 5 parts looking at “The Heart of the Issue relating to people.”

Peers Exercise Mercy

The problem is often that if it is a peer that you are having trouble with, your mercy will often be seen as weakness and just ignored. At that point, you have to let the peer go. You have to wait until that peer comes to his senses and will respond to the godly mercy that you exercised. Peers check themselves and do not practice judgment (Matt. 7:1,5). Continue reading


Insights: The Heart of the Issue Part 4

This is Part 4 of 5 parts looking at “The Heart of the Issue relating to people.”

Every area of life is Sacred

Before we go any further, let’s understand that every area of life is sacred. There are no secular areas of life for the believer. Everything the believer does is for the glory of God. As Paul said, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) Therefore, your worship is sacred, but so is your golf game, shopping trips and your time spent in front of the television or out in a park. Everything the Christian does is considered sacred. Continue reading

Insights: The Heart of the Issue Part 3

This is Part 3 of 5 parts looking at the “Heart of the Issue relating to people.”

Asked Questions Rather Than Impose Divine Discipline

Even after the Ninevites repented, God did not impose judgment on Jonah. Instead, the Lord was trying to help Jonah at the heart level. God asked Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jon. 4:4 NKJ)  Jonah was MAD that God relented on punishing the Ninevites. After all, they deserved to suffer! Jonah was like the older brother in the prodigal son account (Luke 15:11-32). He wanted to exercise judgment! But God exercised mercy toward the Ninevites and was exercising mercy toward Jonah. Continue reading

Insights: The Heart of the Issue Part 2

This is Part 2 of 5 parts looking at the “Heart of the issue in relating to people.”

Seek the Heart Change in All Areas of Life

How do you discern when to reach the heart or just impose behavioral change? How you discern the difference in a family, or at a business with employees, or even at church? Additionally, when is something a business and when is it a ministry? Continue reading

Insights: The Heart of the Issue Part 1

This is Part 1 of 5 parts focusing on the Heart of the Issue in relating to people.

When my daughter, Katy, was a little three-year-old girl, I learned an important parenting lesson from my wife. In the winter time, when it was time to go to church, I told Katy, you need to put your coat on. She was (and is) a very bright gal, but on that day, she was very slow to put on her coat. She was still playing with her dolls and standing by the door ready to walk through the snow in order to get into the car. I thought I would reason with her, so I said, “Katy, it’s cold outside, so don’t you think you should put on your coat?” Continue reading

Book Review: Reaching the Heart of Your Teen by Gary Ezzo

Reaching the Heart of Your Teen by Gary Ezzo is a great tool to raise a teen. Too many focus on the behavior of their teen when they really need to reach the heart of their teen. Too many in the world want to hit the fast forward button when a child hits 15 and release the button when the child turns 18.  Continue reading

Counsel: Check your heart (2)

Counsel: Check your heart (2)
On the last “Counsel” article, I addressed how it is easy to “assume” a person might wrongly assess a situation or person’s actions.  Hence, that person might fall into the trap of wrongly judging and wrongly correcting.  We looked at Jeremiah 17:9-10, which addressed the deceitfulness of our wicked hearts and Matthew 7:1-5, which warns us to deal with our own sin before we judge another and finally Galatians 6:1, which gives the spiritual, mechanical issues to be considered as you approach someone.  I concluded with the question, “Why is carefrontation (confronting in a godly way) a fearful step?”  Let me address that.

            First, we are in a spiritual battle.  Paul describes how we are really not fighting against the person we might be having trouble with, but we are fighting with spiritual forces,

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:10-13)

Why does Paul tell the saints in Ephesus to “be strong”?  Paul says, “be strong” because the spiritual battle is strong and raging.  The conflicts are going on.  It’s not a matter of if they will happen, but when they will happen.  Paul makes that clear in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood, but against principalities…”  That is, the real battles are not against human flesh and blood, even though there are conflicts with flesh and blood (people).  The real battles are in the spiritual realm.  Satan’s demonic forces are doing everything they can to divide Christians, harm relationships and distort the world’s perspective of God’s goodness and God’s word.  Because we are in a spiritual battle, it is a fearful thing to carefront others.  How do you know if you are a part of assisting the conflict or bringing godly resolve to the conflict?

            Secondly, we focus on our own hurts more than the other’s.  We know we may hurt someone else, but we cannot understand the heart of another or the damage we may cause, especially when we don’t even understand our own heart (Jer. 17:9-10).  We too easily become self-righteous in our thinking and assume too much.  Paul says it well in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. We think we have others figured out, as well as ourselves, but it’s often just pride.

            The other problem is if we have pain from a relationship, it distorts our view of others.  We have filters and we don’t know how those filters affect our perspective and judgment in thinking.  Paul makes it clear that we tend to think too highly of ourselves.

            Thirdly, we become bitter, because we’re trying to do the right thing.  Paul writes,

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do… 18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. (Col. 3:12-13,18-19)

Why does Paul exhort those attitudes and actions in Colossians 3:12-13?  He exhorts because they are often missing in relationships, even in the body of Christ.  He exhorts because those are the attitudes and actions needed to maintain unity and harmony in the body of Christ, so the world will see love for one another.  He exhorts because we who want to be tender, kind, humble and patient often aren’t, so we must forgive and depend on the power of the Holy Spirit rather than our own power.

            Then Paul gets down to the attitudes and actions of wives and husbands.  I find it very interesting that Paul summarizes into one verse what he says in three verses in Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as if fitting in the Lord.”  He doesn’t say what is “fitting,” but he does all through the epistle.  Every encouragement and exhortation directed toward relationships in the body are to be manifested in marriage.  Marriage is often the hardest place to see it fulfilled, so he assumes the wives will 1) be submissive and 2) do what is fitting in the Lord, that is, “just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Eph. 5:24)  Fitting”means what is “set aside” or what is holy to the Lord.  In other words, everything, except what would be sin.  Wives, die to your own desires and be holy set aside in submission to your husband.  That is why wives need the Holy Spirit. That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another.

            Then Paul addresses the husbands and mentions “do not be bitter toward them.”Most people would say that men aren’t as bitter as women.  After all, women have to submit to the authority of or the final decisions of their husbands.  There are plenty of reasons for a wife to be bitter.  Yet Paul tells the husband not to be bitter.  Why?  Paul exhorts the husband to not be bitter, because when he is trying to love his wife, when he is dying to himself and trying to lead her spiritually, when he is working to provide, seeking to lead in devotions and on the look out to protect his wife and she doesn’t respond, then the husband is prone to become bitter.  Husbands, die to yourself and do not be bitter.  Instead, be patient.  Husbands put off your bitterness and consider how often you rejected the Lord’s provision, spiritual leading in your life and protection of your soul.  Confess your sins of bitterness and depend on the mercy and power of the Holy Spirit.  Put on kindness, tender mercies and forgiveness and you’ll not be bitter.  That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another.

            Fourthly, we don’t approach love God’s way.  Most people have heard the “love” chapter (1 Corinthians 13) so many times at weddings and other occasions that they become numb to what it’s really saying.  Paul writes,

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

What does it mean to you that “love suffers long”?  First ask yourself, what is the Great Commandment? “

37 Jesus said to him, “`You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the first and great commandment. 39 “And the second is like it:`You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 22:37-39)

Who is your closest neighbor?  Your spouse!  So God commands us to love our spouse and if I don’t, what is that called?  If I know what I’m supposed to do and I don’t do it, what is that called?  James writes, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (Jam. 4:17)  So, if I don’t love my spouse (or my neighbor) it’s sin.  If I don’t do what love does, it is sin for me.  In other words, if as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, I am not patient, I have sinned.  If I am not kind in my actions, it is sin.  If I am envious of others, it is sin.  If I parade myself or act arrogant, it is sin.  If I am rude to my neighbor (or my spouse) it is sin. 

            Too often we think “everyone does those things” and we find them acceptable.  God does not! They reveal that we are not dependent on the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit does not do those things. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we cannot do those things.  They are not the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  If we sin, then we must follow God’s guideline, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  When we confess our sins and humbly depend on the Holy Spirit, then God the Holy Spirit will bear his fruit through us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…  That is why it is a fearful step to carefront another; we might not do it from God’s love.

            Friends, check your heart.  Scripture says 1) our hearts are deceitful; 2) we are easily prone to judging others; and 3) we often correct in an ungodly way.  When we correct another, or point out their wrongs in an ungodly way, we often don’t realize how fearful a step we are taking. Consequently, we need 1) to recognize we are in a spiritual battle; 2) to focus on the hurt of others more than our own and 3) to not become bitter when we are doing the right thing and 4) to approach love God’s way.  If you do these things, you’ll be blessed. (John 13:17)  If you do these things, you’ll have good relationships.  Go in His peace.

Counsel: Check your heart (1)

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?  5Hypocrite! 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.