A Heart Like His

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:4 NIV

For two weeks I was able to read without a magnifying glass. Then a tiny speck appeared on the edge of the right lens of my new eyeglasses. At first I thought it was an ink spot. But cleaning the lens didn’t remove it.

Maybe it won’t get any bigger. I dreaded the thought of having to send them back. It had been wonderful, being able to see my computer screen and the printed page clearly. But a few days later, the speck expanded and resembled a chip on a windshield. In addition, a minuscule crack had appeared in the left lens.

So back to the eye doctor I went. And learned that our insurance requires them to use the company that manufactured the lenses.

“They do shoddy work,” the doctor’s assistant told me. The lenses were made too big, and the pressure of being forced into frames too small had caused them to crack.

“How long will it take—another seven to ten days?” I asked. “Maybe since this is a return due to their mistake, they’ll speed up the process?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They have so much business that one customer doesn’t make a difference.”

Putting the customer first, quality products, and quality service have taken a backseat to big customers with deep pockets. Corporate hearts have hardened toward the little guy.

But before I call the kettle black, perhaps I should look into my own heart. Where have I become calloused?

Have I attended to the physical needs of others or do I just wish them well (James 2:14–16)? Do I give generously (Ephesians 4:28) or am I tightfisted with my money, possessions, time, and talents (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)?

I think of Haiti, people in Third World countries, Russian children who live in sewers, and I feel overwhelmed by the quantity and depth of the needs. I think of the many organizations that respond to these needs, and I allow confusion over which organization to donate to hold me back from giving as I should.

God wants us to have a heart like His. He commanded us to show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9), to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8), to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy (Colossians 3:12). “Having no interest in or concern for other people, their needs, and activities”* is indifference, another of the subtle sins God has brought to my attention.

When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night, dreaming of going to Third World countries to help others. My desire to make a difference was so strong, I couldn’t get to sleep. My heart would break when I’d see the aged, the blind, the crippled, the infirm, the helpless. I wanted to do something. I even looked into the Peace Corps when I was in college.

But somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to help others. My life, by my own choices, took a different direction. Then God used my flippant response to a local tragedy to show me how far I’ve gotten from that tenderhearted young girl and the places in my heart that have become hard, calloused. I’m too often like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who either didn’t want to take the time or get their hands dirty helping someone else.

Just like the speck in my eyeglass lens grew bigger and bigger until I had to send them back to the maker, so the sin of indifference has grown to a defect in my character.

In order to correct the flaw and for my heart to become a heart like God’s—tender, compassionate, loving—it, too, must be sent back to the Maker, who promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 RSV). Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 10:30–37 and Isaiah 58:6–9.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Definition from Children’s Ministry Resource Bible ©1993, Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.

The Games People Play

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace. Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. –Romans 12:18 TEV

Make every effort to live in peace with all men. –Hebrews 12:14 NIV

 

Karen and Paula were fighting again. Our third grade class was split in two.

“Whose side are you on?” one classmate would ask the other.

Never mind that the two best friends would soon make up and put the spat behind them, leaving the rest of us in social turmoil, everyone mad at everyone who wasn’t on her side.

Everyone, that is, except Thomas.

“I’m on my own side,” he answered confidently when I asked him.

Good for Thomas for not choosing sides and staying out of it. He probably had—and kept—the most friends.

Why did I have to choose a side, anyway? Because it was the thing to do? Because I felt pressured by my peers? Because if I didn’t choose a side, I’d be left out? At least if I chose a side, I’d have some friends.

At that age, I thought the silliness of taking sides was a kid-thing, that we’d outgrow it and, as adults, be able to get along with one another.

Ha! It doesn’t get any better, does it? From office squabbles to church splits to road rage to family feuds, discord abounds in the world around us. Will it ever end?

A more important question, though, is, where does it start? (Once you can answer where it starts, you have the answer to how it can end.)

It starts, not with conflict between two people, but in the heart. When the twins of selfishness and pride reign, one-upmanship defines all your relationships. You have to tell the better story, own the nicer home, drive the more expensive car, have the last word, inflict the final blow.

It never ends, though, does it? It just goes on and on and on, until one person says, “I’ve had enough.”

It takes two to tangle. All it takes for peace is for one person to refuse to take part in these dangerous games people play.

Look at the story of King Saul and David, the shepherd boy anointed to be the next king. With all his kingly resources, Saul relentlessly pursued David to kill him, but David, even when he had an opportunity to gain the upper hand, refused to retaliate. It wasn’t David who suffered from a troubled spirit (1 Samuel 16:14).

How can we obtain the inner peace that spills over into outer peace?

First, make peace with God, the giver of peace (Romans 5:1), through His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember the peace that He gives is deep and lasting, unaffected by worldly troubles (John 14:27).

Second, learn to trust God with every aspect of your life, banishing anxiety by telling God about your needs (Philippians 4:6–7, 19; Matthew 6:8, 25–33), knowing that His way is always the best way (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Third, train your mind so that your thoughts are on God, for He will “keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on” Him (Isaiah 26:3).

Fourth, make a conscious effort to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15) by refusing to play the one-upmanship game, to retaliate when someone hurts you (Matthew 5:38–48). Don’t allow bitterness to take root in your heart and mind, where it will grow and poison you and your relationships with others (Hebrews 12:14).

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, and every kind of malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Don’t play the payback game (Romans 12:14–21).

Instead, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32), and overcoming bad with good.

Peace is a choice.

What’s yours?

Dear God, in a time when world peace is humanly impossible, remind me that true peace begins with me—and You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Samuel 24 and Colossians 3:12–15.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey.