Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

Are you grieving for the soul of a loved one? Do you lose sleep over the choices your child is making? Is your spouse living outside the family of God? Do you have a friend who wishes she could die? It is hard to watch a loved one live life contrary to the word of God but is worry the answer? Anxiety wears many faces and has many voices: concern, arguing, accusations, anger, frustration, pleas, and promises. What’s at the root of all this tension? A desire for something we do not have and want desperately.

It’s not wrong to want my child, parent, spouse, friend or co-worker to live a godly life but when conflict is the answer to my concern a little self-diagnosis is called for. Ask yourself, “Why am I willing to go to war over this issue?” Usually its because I believe its my responsibility to make the right things happen.  Believing this makes it easy to get angry at my child’s choice of friends, clothes she wears, or places she hangs out because I see the trouble she’s getting into. I know if my spouse doesn’t come to know the Lord he will suffer eternal separation from God. I want to help.

Power to Change Hearts

When I believe I am supposed to make the difference, I am anxious when the difference isn’t made. I feel like it’s my fault. I’ve failed. The problem with this thinking is that I do not have the power to change a heart. God through his spirit has given me the power to love, not give life. He is the only one who can cause a dead heart to live, a rebellious heart to turn, a sinful heart to repent. Where do I get off thinking I have this kind of power?

Jesus addresses my wayward thinking in Mark 7:14-23, “And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” Thus he declared all foods clean. And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

What am I supposed to do?

Sin is in the heart and the only one who can deal with it is God. If worrying isn’t the answer and fussing and fretting doesn’t change the person I worry about, then what am I supposed to do? Pray. Love. Prayer acknowledges my insufficiency and God’s perfect sufficiency. I can affect change from this posture. God ordained prayer as a means to which he would accomplish his will. Does this mean that if I pray it, God will do it? No, but it is the call to action that God has given me to affect change in his people. Nagging, fussing and fretting are man’s answer to difficult situations. Prayer is a Godly response to concerns for others. Love is the other call to action.

To affect change I must love God and love others. We’ll talk about this in a future post. For now, consider the person you are most burdened about, the one you argue with the most, hope for change the most, and instead of fussing and fretting, get on your knees and pray. Rely upon the One who hears, who acts. Then enjoy yourself as you wait to see what the Lord will do.

This is freedom!

If you are interested in learning more about changing the hearts of those you love check out this book or DVD series by Paul Tripp and David Powlison, Changing Hearts, Changing Lives.

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3 thoughts on “Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

  1. Martha Brady says:

    i finally got here. loved the read:) so true! all the comments here and above verify that. if i’ve learned nothing else in the years i served as a pastor’s wife, it is that most people struggle in this area. once i realized i wasn’t the only one, i just wanted to find ways to help people caught in this struggle to get out of it.

    there is something about meeting the needs of everyone in your life that can feed your pride in a weird way. eventually, you get bit martyry in the process, but it is nice to be needed…until you are worn out. that’s when we need to turn to Christ for the enablement to not only do what He wants, but say “no” to a lot of things we are not responsible for. It is a difficult adjustment and often involves a power struggle with God!

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