A man walks into a store to buy a battery for his daughter’s ATV. He saw the price of the battery and began to complain, but he decided to buy it. Then he asked the salesman if he could get the batteries he would need for his two off-road motorcycles. Again, he complained about how expensive they were. Then he asked if the store sold tires that would fit his crew-cab, four-wheel drive pickup truck, which the store did. Again, the man complained about how much they cost. He complained about the cost of the twenty light bulbs he would need to replace just the ones in his kitchen, but he had to do it because his wife wouldn’t stop nagging him. This man spent almost an hour complaining of the cost of his blessings!
What causes us to act the way we do? How do we respond when circumstances change, either for the good or bad? Very often we are focused on ourself, our situation, feelings, or actions. (For clarity, I include thoughts, words, and deeds into the definition of “actions” here.) Rarely do we assess what drives our reaction to life’s blessings and pain.
In Scripture, the word “heart” is often used to mean more than simply the seat of our emotions. It’s not about our level of sincerity either. The word actually refers to our whole being: heart, mind, and soul. It is the seat of our will and worldview. It fuels our feelings and actions.
Think of your heart as a sponge. If it soaks up dirty water, when it is squeezed, dirty water comes out. The longer the dirty water sits in the sponge, the nastier it gets. Likewise, when life’s circumstances squeeze us, our reaction can be that dirty water. Out comes the selfishness, rationalizations, impurity, anger, bitterness, rivalry, and jealousy.
But if our hearts soak up clean water, then we can begin to flush out the nasty junk. Like a sponge, it means repeated soaking in clean water followed by squeezing. In other words, we must keep soaking up the “living water” of Christ and allow it to push out the old stuff of our life. We must continue through situations, even the ones we don’t like, so that we can get squeezed and cleaned out. More and more, Christ will cleanse us of our old ways and then, when circumstances squeeze us, we will begin to see clean water come out. Out comes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But this is only possible when we receive Christ as Lord and live each day following Him.
Jesus said, “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.” (Luke 6:45) What is squeezed from your heart? Our feelings, thoughts, words, and deeds show the overflow of our hearts. By the way, being a “good person” is defined by Christ in His word, not by the culture or our own estimation.