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I am a contributor to a series of devotionals for women called The Redemptive Pursuit. If you would like to receive our once weekly devotional in your inbox sign up here.
This is my first devotional from the series.
The Inmost Heart
"Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart."
-Psalm 51:6 APM
Since it is Lent, I have been thinking about the contrast between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion, the crowds shouted praises acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah from the lineage of David:
"Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!' 'Hosanna in the highest!'" - Mark 11:9-10 NIV
And then, six days later, the crowds shouted that they wanted Jesus to be crucified:
"'What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?' Pilate asked them. 'Crucify him!' they shouted. 'Why? What crime has he committed?' asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify him!'" -Mark 15:12-14 NIV
This got me thinking, how am I similarly two-faced toward God? In what ways do I praise God with my mouth, acknowledge Him as my Savior and my Provider and then turn around and crucify Him with my behaviors and my actions?
My pastor is often saying that you can intellectually believe something but until "the penny drops" there is no way to know if you believe it in the depths of your heart. What we believe in our "inmost heart" (Psalm 51:6) is revealed through our behaviors.
I am an actress. After performing in a play recently, I received an unflattering review. I was devastated. There, in print for all the world to see was someone's opinion that I had not done a good job. And even though it was someone I did not know personally nor had ever met, their criticism rang truer in my ears than God's truth that I am fully loved by Him.
I know intellectually that God loves me. He calls me His own. Because Christ has paid the price for my sins, God looks on me the way He looks on Christ. He sees me as His beloved daughter in whom He is well pleased. If the creator of the Universe has this view of me, then the criticism of other people should be easy for me to take. It should not devastate me. And yet, it does.
The truth of God's complete love for me has not been worked into my "inmost heart."
Getting my actions and attitudes to match God's truth is going to be a process. But it starts with recognizing the disparity that exists within my very self. Every time I become aware of a way that my actions are not matching up with what I know to be true about myself or God, it is an opportunity to repent and be made new.
Thomas Chalmers says, "The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one." The only way to get rid of my desire for the approval of others is to replace it with the knowledge that I am approved of by God. God loves me not because of anything I have done on my own accord but rather because Christ has paid the price for me to have it. He took on the separation that was caused by all our sin, a cosmic disapproval, so that we could be approved of for eternity.
If I allow the beauty of that kind of love and sacrifice to work itself into my heart, then my two-faced nature will begin to fade. The deeper I grasp the full weight of the love that exists for me from Christ the more my actions and my faith will intersect.
Lord, we praise you with our mouths for what you have done for us, but our hearts are hard towards you. We say we believe you are in control of our lives but we spend time consumed by our worries, fears and anger. We say we believe you love us, but we look to others for approval. We say we want you at the center of our lives, but we push you to the periphery. Reveal to us the areas in which we are not living out of your Truth.
Forgive us for our hypocrisy and help us to know your wisdom in our inmost hearts. Help us to be so captivated by your beauty for us that our actions and attitudes flow from a place of love for you.