With the rise of smart phones and social media, there has been a corresponding growth in people caught saying or doing something that they regret. After such an incident goes viral, there is typically a statement along the lines of “I can’t believe that happened. That’s not who I am.” Before we roll our eyes too hard, we should think about our own lives. Though (hopefully) not made public, we all have moments where we reflect on something we’ve done and think “Where did that come from? That’s not me. I wouldn’t normally do something like that.”
But the wisdom of Jesus says, “Not so! You are that person. Your actions show who you really are.” Jesus told his followers, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart…” (Mt. 15:18) Saying this, Jesus is proclaiming that our words and actions don’t come out of the blue, they come out of us. Want to do a heart check? Look at what you say and do. That will show you the state of your heart. Dallas Willard put it bluntly, “Actions are not impositions on who we are, but are expressions of who we are.” In other words, the devil (or family or friends) didn’t make you do it, you did it because you are the type of person who would do or say something like that – whether you want to admit it or not!
Our only hope if we want to follow Jesus and live like him is to have him give us a new heart. That’s why over and over again, scripture admonishes us to pay attention to our hearts (see Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Proverbs 4:23 for just two examples). The wonder and warning of Jesus’ teaching is that he doesn’t want us to “clean up our act” he wants to give us a new heart rooted in him. A heart that is so transformed by Jesus that we look at the good things we do and say “Where did that come from? That’s not me…only Jesus could make me that way!”
With hope for transformation,