Monday, August 20, 2007

Bridging the Gap Between Heart & Reality

The Fruit of the Spirit in Real Life, Part One

Scriptural reference: Galatians 5:22-23

Very rarely do people ever sit down and talk about what is wrong with anything. When it does happen, eventually you have to look at the problems that certain people are causing. If you were to say something like "so-and-so comes across as cold, uncaring, or not interested in other people," a typical response would be "but I think their heart is to be nice and welcoming to people." Both parties would agree to that, and go on.

I would really, really hate to hear that being said about me. Not the first part - where someone points out a problem that I have. I have them, and I need to hear them - so I need to get over it. What I would hate to hear would be the second part: "but I THINK their heart is _____." When I come to the end of my life, I don't want my heart to be in question. I want people to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I felt in my heart. I want my heart to be my reality.

When we refer to someone's heart in this context, I think what we mean is "the person that they really want to be, if they weren't inhibited by habits, familiar patterns, or flat out sin." So, if there is a noticeable difference between what is in my heart and how I come across to people, I have a serious problem. There is a serious flaw in my wiring somewhere.

The problem that I see, in myself especially but also others, is that we seem to think that we are stuck with this flaw. And so, those long conversations that we have to have with people offended by our actions, the ones where we sit down and try to explain to the them what our heart really is, are going to be an inevitable part of life. Of course, once we get to the point of having one of those conversations, the hurt and damage are already done. The forgiveness and healing process, as slow as it can be sometimes, has to be set in motion. That is why I hate the theology of "it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission." Forgiveness can often be a long, painful process. We think that it is fine to be lazy and just not ask for permission in the first place?

I think the problem that leads to this flaw begins with a misunderstanding of the fruit of the Spirit. I think most people know what they are - but its the application that we tend to miss. So, God willing, that is what I will look at in Part 2.

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