Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Pure Heart

Can you be trusted?  I’m sure most of us would say yes.  Selfishness isn’t something that’s easy to see in ourselves, but consider it for a minute.  Do your friends trust you?  For those of you who have borrowed money from friends or relatives in your lifetime, how many times have failed to pay the money back?  How much do you owe?  What about playing games to get ahead at other people’s expense?  Have you ever accidentally damaged someone else’s property and failed to compensate them for the loss?  When you promise to do something, do you follow through?  How often have you lied or withhold information knowing that you would benefit if the other person never found out?   It's not something we like to think about but it's important to see ourselves clearly. 

Think about David and Bathsheba.  David decides Bathsheba is hot and that he's "gotta gotta gotta" have her.  But...  she's married.  So, he decides to send her husband to the front line of David's little seige that's in progress in a city named Rabbah.  And, of course, the husband died there.  Score!  So he let her mourn for a bit and then made his move, undoubtedly impressed with his own brilliance.

“When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was displeased with what David had done.”  (2 Samuel 11:27)  NLT

God was not as impressed.  While David had seemingly gotten away with it, we see in chapter 12 that he actually hadn't gotten away with anything.

"This is what the LORD says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view.  You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel."    (2 Samuel 12:11-12)  NLT

This is a tough subject, because at the end of the day we were all born selfish.  We all instinctively and naturally value our own desires above the desires of those around us (even those we love).  While over time God can and will work on our selfishness, none of us are natural-born givers.  We’re takers, with needs and wants and desires.  Haven’t you met seemingly generous people who deep down give out of an ulterior motive?  Maybe they give to get leverage, or they give to get recognition.  Why do we do what we do?  Is it for the benefit of those around us, or for our own benefit?

This is one of many topics where I can honestly say I don’t have it all figured out.  When I write on topics, I often write from the perspective of one who tries to do the right thing and occasionally completely messes it up.  I’ve messed up friendships by speaking out of selfishness not realizing that my words would soon come back to haunt me.  There are ways in which I need to act on this as well. 

Many of you would agree though that selfish behavior can damage or destroy relationships or reputations because you've been the victim (in some cases self inflicted) of this principle.  Some of us are going down a path right now that will damage or destroy relationships that are important to us.  Those around us we care about deserve our integrity and our honesty.  But instead, we claw and fight to get in good with a rich parent so we can be first in line for the inheritance.  We stretch the truth to make coworkers look bad in front of the boss so we will look like the only ones who know what we’re doing.  We know that God disciplines us to bring us back in line, and that when we are faithful the blessings of God far exceed what we could gain by our dishonesty.  And yet we do it anyway, don't we?  For those of us who are Christians, surely we recognize that this will profoundly impact our witness and hamstring our ability to have an impact on people's lives.

Selfishness.  Greed.  Spitefulness.  These are ugly things to see in ourselves.  Is this something you would honestly admit to yourself that you struggle with?  What if you started to put others feelings, needs and desires ahead of your own?  Think about the impact this could have on a marriage, relationships with friends and family, people at work, or even people you don't even know!  And, what if God saw your generosity and your humbleness and blessed you in a way that only God can?  Andy Stanley once said that every night his children pray a specific prayer at bedtime:  "Lord, give me the wisdom to know what's right and the courage to do what's right even when it's hard."  Maybe a good place to start is to apologize...  To repay what we owe...  To stop stomping on other people's fingers as we climb the ladder of success...  Maybe we need to repent and ask God to help us have a pure heart (just like His).

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  (Matthew 5:8)  NIV

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