Ken Fish: “What is the Condition of Your Heart?”
People often ask me how they can get more spiritual power. The hard but simple truth is that power and purity are intimately connected. What is the condition of your heart? The easiest way to find out is to check what is coming out of your mouth.
Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If the abundance in our hearts is good, then blessing, praise, and joy will come out of our mouths. If the abundance in our hearts is not good, then cursing, criticism, and anger will come forth. Jesus goes on to say that the good person brings forth good things from the good treasure of his/her heart, but the evil person brings forth evil treasure from the evil in his/her heart (Matthew 12:35).
Simply put, “You will know a tree by its fruit” (Matthew 7:16, 7:20, 12:33). “Inspecting fruit” has a long and negative connotation in many churches, as it can look suspiciously like criticism, control, manipulation, and even self-exaltation. “Inspecting fruit” is nearly always directed at others with the intention of belittling and ruining them. Yet, we are not called to tear others down; we are called to build them up. So, instead of spending energy to search out “hypocrites,” why not turn the spotlight on ourselves?
What is the abundance in your heart that flows out of your mouth? Do you even know?
The Puritans called the practice of inviting the Holy Spirit to turn his light on us “The Prayer of Examen.” As the psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). Of course, praying this way can be risky. The Holy Spirit may show us things we would rather not see—things we can hardly believe are in us.
Intentions Do Not Equal Results
I had an experience like this a few years ago in which I learned, much to my dismay and embarrassment, that I was often harsh and impetuous, despite my best intentions not to be this way. Some may protest in my defense that my intentions were good, therefore the fruit should be counted as good. However, such is not the case. Good intentions do not guarantee good outcomes. The Bible says that we prove our faith (favorable thoughts and intentions) by our works (how we live outwardly) (James 2:18).
Though we may try to convince ourselves that good intentions are enough, Scripture reminds us that “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). When God showed me my failings in this area, I wept for weeks. Part of this was grief and godly sorrow; some of it was sheer embarrassment; some of it was a cry for mercy. In time, the Lord helped me change my ways, but even to this day, I remain vigilant lest I fall into old patterns once again. Sometimes we need wives or husbands, children or coworkers, friends or fellow church members, or eventually pastors to point these things out to us since we may be spiritually blind. In fact, we most likely are spiritually blind. When we can receive this input without reacting angrily or sulking, we will know we are starting to grow spiritually.
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