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Leading people into a maturing new life in Jesus Christ

Inside-Out

insideoutConsider this sound bite of ancient wisdom: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).

Jesus says, “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil” (Matt 12:35).

This implies a foundational truth at the center of Jesus’ teachings on the nature of human living: what we are on the inside will inevitably reveal itself on the outside in our words and actions, and will have an effect in our personal circle of influence for either good or evil.

In fact, most of the writers of Scripture inform us that it is from within, what they refer to as “the heart,” that we think, feel and choose. You see, from a Judeo-Christian perspective the heart does more than feel. Rather, it is the motivational source of everything we do.

In addition, Biblical writers do not see the natural human heart as inherently good, but deeply penetrated with evil and deceit and in need of healing. The prophet Jeremiah presents the following words as coming from God himself: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (13:23). Jeremiah attributes this human inability to continue to live a good life to our nature within: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it (17:9)?

Are we, then, destined to continue to do evil?

What are we to do if we cannot even understand our motivations?

Fortunately, there is hope. Jeremiah expresses his assurance for change in 17:14 by praying the following: Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.

And years later, Jesus points us to the healing that only he can bring: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38).

Through Jesus people are healed. Those who follow him are given a new heart; one with desires for good and not evil, through which the very presence of God flows out to a thirsty world.

So don’t struggle in your own power and attempt to change your outward behavior by conforming to religious practices or applying self-help principles. Doing so might help for a while, but in the long-run will not change you inwardly.

Instead, go directly to the only person with the love and power to help — Jesus. He’ll accept you as you are and change you from the-inside-out as you follow him and learn from him. He’ll give you rest from the burdens that you’ve tried to carry for so long. It’s the only way to “keep your heart with all vigilance” and live the life God originally planned for you.

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Contributed by Pastor Larry Zuchowski


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