When I was a teenager, I was pretty great at noticing when guys were attractive or not. Thankfully, I also noticed when their actions were not kind as well. I started to see that guys who were initially very attractive, but not kind, became less attractive. Guys who might have been less attractive, but kind, became more attractive.
A few years back, while my kids were small, we had playdates with a friend whose children were the same ages as mine. Of course, while the kids played, the moms would talk. Those were some of my most favorite times. When my friend's children would become mean to each other, she would tell them that they were acting “ugly.” The first time I heard her use it left an impression on me and I have used it at times with my own children.
During a sermon several weeks ago, my husband said, “Have you ever said something that you regretted?” Throughout the congregation of people there was a collective groan. My internal groan probably was the loudest. I have regretted many things that I have said, but I do know that I am not alone. Maybe knowing that fact, we all should show a little more grace when others say things that should not have been said.
Several years ago, my husband and I went through a parenting class called, “Parenting is Heart Work.” I loved it. It made complete sense to me to instead of working on my children’s actions to work on the motives of their heart. Of course, that would take work, and it is not easy work. Through that work, it came apparent to me that not only do my kids need to work on their hearts, so do I. That conclusion did not feel good.
Luke 6:45-46 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” The Bible is a double-edged sword, and it has judged the thoughts and attitude of my heart with that verse. (Hebrews 4:12). When we speak without thought, then what is going to come out of our mouths will be what is in our hearts. What is in our hearts will be the things we are meditating on. For instance, if the only thing that comes of our mouths are complaints, then we may be meditating on the wrong things.
How do we decide if what we say is good and productive? We need to measure our thoughts next to the Bible. If the complaint is about something immoral or not biblical, then we may have reason to use our words for the benefit of others. (Even then, we have to have a good knowledge of the Bible to deem if something is unbiblical.) If it is not, then we need to take a long look at our own hearts. That is not easy work, but it is good work. It is humbling work and we need to know that we are not alone.
Working on Christian living is not easy, but when I stand alone in the presence of God, He is not going to measure me by other people. I will be measured by what is in my heart. That is work that I want to do and that I can do now, with Jesus’ help.
Philippians 2:12-16 says, Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
My hope for you and for me is that we work very diligently at getting the uglies out of our hearts, so that we can focus on what is really, truly important…. reaching the world for Christ. Trust that God will work it all out, He sees the big picture. We only see a part of the picture.
God bless you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling so you can shine like a star.