“Every age has its false teachers and religious imposters, ours included. Jesus told us to be on the alert for them — but even more to make sure that we do not become one of them ourselves. Each of us must guard our heart against ungodly teaching and the schemes of unbelievers. We must also be careful to remain in the center of God’s will and under His protection.”-Charles F Stanley Life Principles Bible re: Luke 20:20
As I type right now, my husband has a Bethel Music playlist on, and we just ended a conversation about seeing Jesus in people. Since Jesus isn’t in our form anymore, we can’t see Him with our eyes, obviously, so it’s up to us to open the eyes of our hearts, to see Him through other people, and hopefully to emanate His character so that others can see Him through us.
We also talked about how we have to spend time with God before we do anything, in order for that thing we’re doing to be Good. We need to spend time alone with God before we do anything, not for that thing to look or to sound good, but for that thing to have a Godly type of Goodness.
For example, my husband says that if he doesn’t spend time alone with God before he leads worship on Sunday mornings, something’s just not “right”, and it feels like he’s doing it for himself. It’s the same for me when leading worship or illustrating my faith, which are my two most public displays of worship. If I don’t spend some time alone with God before I begin, it’s just not Good.
Yesterday (as I type) was a really, really hard day for me. There wasn’t one particular thing that made it a terrible day, it was just a combination of a lot — a LOT — of small things, and thoughts, and this-stage-of-life-situations that made yesterday much harder for me than other days. Plus, my attitude sucked and I had run out of patience by 6:30 am.
Usually I do my journaling, lettering, and all-the-things during nap time, but that time never came yesterday, and I didn’t have anything done yet for my Illustrated Faith post. With the deadline only two days away and not knowing if this no-nap thing would continue in the future, I forced myself to work something out in between yogurt-and-grape-and-baby-
Did I pray first? Sure. But it was a disgruntled mumble, more than anything. And the resulting page was not good. Not only did it notlook good, but it was not Good. My heart was cold toward it, and it showed. There was no message, there was no beauty… all there was was a messy, forced, overdone page, which showed the efforts of an exhausted, frustrated mom whose heart wasn’t in it, and who just needed five minutes of quiet, for goodness’ sake.
In those moments, as I was relying on my own strength, trying to force something Good out of my bad attitude, I was being a religious imposter, like the quote above says. And as I hang my head in shame, I can testify too that I’ve been in this sort of situation before. Praise God for His new mercies, for new, brighter days, and for nap time.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
-Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Good seeds can’t be sown by inauthentic faith. Jesus’s character can’t be seen in us when we grumble instead of praise. And most importantly, we’re not sharing the truth when we pretend to serve and worship God for our own personal gain. God can see through it, and I believe others can, too. Sometimes, we have to guard our hearts against our own selves.
Real seeds will be sown by real faith, and beauty and Goodness will be the result. So let’s get real, let’s keep it real, and let’s pray that not only will we be authentic in our personalities and character, but also in our faith, in the center of God’s will.