Do you ever notice the condition your heart gets in when you’ve been focusing on all the wrong things? You may start wallowing in self pity, getting angry, over-worrying, micro-managing your own life (control), feeling excessively insecure, creating discord, becoming envious, being selfish, fearful, anxious about every little thing, etc. etc. Then you start to feel miserable and wonder what the deal is and how to fix it!
Maybe that’s just me though. Regardless, I observed some stuff about myself a week or two ago… and I’ve observed how incredibly faithful and merciful the Lord is in dealing with me on it. He starts His work from the inside out… penetrating the heart (if we’re open to His spirit, that is). He doesn’t just go for the surface stuff like we do.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
I read that the day before I wrote this blog (which was actually 7/13). I came across it when I turned to simply read a little about David because I’ve been reading some “randomly” (HA, riiiight – not) in Psalm lately. 1 Samuel 16 caught my attention because of the title of when Samuel Anoints David. It’s funny because here I think I’m haphazardly reading the Bible that day, and WHAM… He reveals His amazing faithfulness in dealing with me, then connects in it my heart and head so that I can attempt to share what He’s doing!
That’s just a little lead up to what I’m intending to share. Bear with me, I know my writing gets lengthy and I go down random bunny trails – but I’ll get to the point eventually! Back to the heart condition bit I started with…
I was noticing a specific area of my heart at that time that had started to surface things I knew were wrong, I felt a conviction check and knew something had to change. I was growing cynical. This began to effect my attitude and work and how I was treating the people around me. Where had this come from though and why? What was the cause? It’s only begun to make more sense. Read the following verse from Psalm 27:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
Funny, I “haphazardly” turned to and read Psalm 27 that same day in addition to part of 1 Samuel 16. Little did I realize they would connect…
The cynicism growing in me was beginning to harden my heart and I could feel it cause God was bringing it to my attention. Being cynical is something I quite often justify in my life. In my flesh, I could say I have good reason to be and can even give you examples. Most people would even agree and tell you “Brittney should be careful – cause her generous, selfless, caring nature could easily be used, abused, taken for granted and taken advantage of”. These ‘cautions’ have often thwarted me in the past and for a while I was extremely cynical, mistrusting and fearful. It is true that our human nature (since the fall) is motivated by self-interest, selfishness and ulterior motives. We are in love with ourselves. To deny that is foolishness and would be rejecting the reality that we have a sin nature and are therefore in desperate need of a Savior (Jesus Christ). YET, as I’ve walked more with the Lord, He’s given me more of a desire to denying myself and way of doing things, I am able to understand and believe that He is the one who protects and sustains a human heart. That supposed “generous, selfless, caring nature” is put into perspective… it isn’t mine to have or hold onto, it’s from the Lord and for Him to use.
Many of us are after our own ends, and Jesus Christ cannot help Himself to our lives. If we are abandoned to Jesus, we have no ends of our own to serve. Paul said he knew how to be a “door-mat” without resenting it because the mainspring of his life was devotion to Jesus! – My Utmost for His Highest
If I look at the root of where the cynicism comes from it’s nothing more than pride, self-righteousness and fear. All sin. Pride and self-righteous for me to think that I do not also have the human nature and tendency to be motivated by self-love, self-interest, selfishness and ulterior motives. Pride can take on many forms – it’s so hideous. Fear is the biggest one though… and that can be traced back to unbelief and mistrust as if the Lord is not living, loving or powerful enough. Or not believing that His spirit is at work in us.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Also… on fear.
“There is NO FEAR in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18
I’m not justifying the sin nature of every human being… or saying that people are inherently ‘good’ and have pure intentions, aren’t ever selfish or are never out for their own self-interest… OR that we should just serve each person’s selfish wants and desires regardless if they use or abuse you. I’m not advocating that whatsoever, especially because serving those who simply are out for their own gain only ends up just hurting both in the end. My own heart deceives me, so I know I’m capable of deceiving others and therefore people are capable of deceiving me. So I’m aware of the reality of human nature intentions. I know that each person inherits sin and death, and that it is only through the Cross and Jesus Christ that we are redeemed and saved!
That’s the whole point then, isn’t it?
If I am gazing upon the Cross, on Jesus, on the beauty of the Lord – the One who looks at every human heart – then I should not be cynical. Why? Because as His spirit works in me, I can trust that His spirit will also be working in those who give their lives to Him as long as they truly belong to Him and are open to His Spirit. If they aren’t open to Him and would rather reject the Cross, holding onto their sin and death human/flesh nature, then because I am still gazing on Christ, He can guide me in how to handle the situation, love the person, and serve without fear. It doesn’t mean we’re untouchable and immune to being hurt, abused, used, taken for granted or taken advantage of. I’m just meaning that when we fix our eyes on Jesus, He is our source and guide. Our hope is in Him! Not in people. So when I, or others, are out for their own self-interest – it just shows the reality of our sin nature and our need for Jesus Christ. This compels me to my knees, to return to the Cross and fix my gaze on Him – to also accept/share His love and redemption, rather than be cynical or focused on all the disgust of human nature.
“The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground….. the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:6,11
I realize more now that when I feel my heart start to grow cynical or bitter, the deeper problem is that I’ve become more fixated on my own self-preservation rather than on trusting and gazing upon the Lord. When I’m gazing on the Lord, He softens my heart again and I remember…
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
I remember Jesus beaten, abused, used, taken for granted, taken advantage of… who healed, served, and died pouring out His innocent blood and pure love while hanging tortured on a tree for my selfish, sinful, cynical-hearted sake and for the world. What right do any of us have to be cynical with such a Lord as our King and Friend? We have no right to ever make excuses not to serve, not to love, and not to throw ourselves out there risking pain and suffering to show those around us who He is and what He’s done for us…
I’m not sure if this one made sense… it’s still being worked out in my heart, so it’s not coming out beautifully articulate – but I hope the point is made. Just… gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, get over yourself and let go of whatever hardness is in your heart. It’ll only bring you misery, He knows what’s best for us – so run to the Cross and to Christ. When you have your gaze on Him, you don’t have time to be cynical, bitter, hard, stressed or focused on a billion other stupid things.