Taking Responsibility for Your Own Heart

“That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” (Matthew 13:13 NLT)

Is it too much of an understatement to say there are things about God we can’t understand? And is it too great a stretch to believe there are things about ourselves that we don’t know, don’t understand, or haven’t yet even discovered? Life, on some levels, is like a parable and, like people who listened to Jesus, sometimes we hear without understanding and see without making sense of what we see.

It’s so easy for me to listen to the words of others, but not “hear” what they’re saying. Sometimes I hear anger instead of desperation; insult rather than a plea for help; opposition rather than a cry for inclusion. Is it safe to say we don’t always say what we mean, or, at least, say it in a way that doesn’t accurately convey what we want others to hear?

In some ways we want to escape responsibility for our own life. How so? As children much of our behavior was deflected onto our parents, for good or ill, and, as God’s children, there’s sometimes a part of us that would wish that could still happen. We sin, consistently breaking our Father’s heart, but rather than take responsibility for our own wrongdoing, we give excuse. “Afterall,” we reason, “I’m only following the dictates of my sinful nature. I can’t help but be me!”  

Photo by Karol D on Pexels.com

In some ways that’s like saying: “The accident wasn’t my fault; the other driver should have gotten out of my way when I ran the red light.” What’s my point? Sometimes we want to pretend that someone else should take charge of our heart and make us do what only we can. We allow addictions to rule our lives but blame others because we can’t stop.

It happens in our closest relationships, especially marriage. We ignore the obvious until they, at least in our minds, become insurmountable problems. Janel Breitenstein wrote: “And even if your marriage is never resurrected, even if you find more things about your spouse you need to forgive rather than feel grateful for, thank God you can trust Him for the things you can change: In Him, you have the power to take responsibility for your own heart. Maybe that seems to set the bar low. Or is it only getting started, just tipping up our chins to spy God’s goodness?”

Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” It always scares me when someone says: “I’m just going to follow my heart.” The only hope for the human heart is to yield it to Jesus. That’s the only way we’ll ever find the strength, wisdom, and resource to take responsibility for our own heart. What does that even mean? What does it mean to take responsibility for our own heart?

What does it mean to take responsibility for anything? If I take responsibility for my neighbor’s dog, what does that look like? Doesn’t it clearly imply that I would care for that dog as if it were my own? That I would do everything in my power to take care of its needs? To make decisions on its behalf that would assure its safety and wellbeing?

By God’s grace, as we yield our hearts to Jesus, by His Spirit’s direction, He gives us the resource of wisdom and strength to do what we can’t in and of ourselves. We can, as He flows in and through us, do for ourselves what is in our best interest. By taking responsibility for our own heart we can turn from sin and addictive behaviors, habits that distract from obedience to the Lord, and replace them with the development of godly disciplines that will change the trajectory of our lives forever. We can, if we will.

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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