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Cameras Ready, Aim, Focus

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:44-45 If my words and actions provide the camera’s focus and angle to tell the story of my heart, and if I were to pay closer attention to the story being told, I would discover quickly that my heart still has a great deal of redeeming to be done. The camera would reveal scenes and a zoom lens focus on a heart that is not nearly as “good”, holy and faithful as I might like to think. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” Matt. 15:7-9

Even the person and work of Jesus can become a new law, placed as a new human rule and stripped of His real person-ness to my heart. Before I know it, I am far from Him in reality though I may have been talking about Him frequently. He becomes something I possess as if holding garlic to keep the vampires away or a treasure map with which to independently navigate my way, rather than Someone who possesses me and is my treasure in and of Himself.

How do my words and actions provide this camera to reveal my heart’s true state? For one, the content of my chitter chatter: increased critiques of other people, stories that “fill the frame” with me as the central hero or greatest person of interest, a need to be known by those around me more than an interest in knowing more of them and so on. My actions are shown to be driven by something other than the compassionate grace, patient mercy and abundant love of God for me. They are hurried, often agitated and cloaked in at least a small amount of pity party or impatience with others for not joining me.

You shall have no other gods before me. Deut. 5:7

If having other gods before God were not much of a problem, it wouldn’t have been stated right at the front. It is a problem throughout the course of every day for me. My words and actions are shown not to be driven by the person and work of Jesus, as I just mentioned, because most of the time they are driven by a worship of me…and a desire that I be at the center. Rather than acknowledging that the Holy Spirit is working out my salvation through the person and work of Jesus in me, drawing Him out even as He slowly puts to death my sinful nature, I instead simply view myself and others from the outside wanting them to do it the way I think I am doing it. I judge them rather than leaning solely on God for His redemptive work in them and I praise myself rather than acknowledging that all good gifts (if they are truly good) come from the Father and not anything in me. It is my name and my renown that too quickly become the desire of my heart, no matter Who my mouth might wish to claim.

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. 2 Sam. 22:32-34

When the camera is so focused on me and what I am doing or what I think about this or them, it is clear that my heart has forgotten who it is that works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose. When my words speak judgments of others for not doing things the way I would do them or saying what I would say, it is possible that my heart has come to believe I arm myself with strength and that it is I alone who keep my way secure, make my feet swift or take myself to the heights.

What would my stories be like if the camera had to fill the frame with Jesus and tell His story as it is unfolding all around me? How would I talk about other people if I really began to believe that He is the author and perfecter of faith, not my will or theirs? What might I begin to see of His redemptive work that I am missing right now if I looked past the exterior of circumstances and people’s words and actions, including my own, and began to see creation, fall, redemption and the hope of exhaustive restoration and recreation instead?

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