Posts Tagged ‘broken spirit’

Every time I hurt someone within the Body of Christ, even inadvertently, I am actually hurting myself. If I gossip against someone, I am dishonoring myself. If I ignore someone intentionally, I am cutting myself off. I am committing a slow suicide by poison.

I Corinthians 12:21, 26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” . . . If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I used to think of these verses as sharing in the sufferings of the saints. In other words, as others experience pain or sorrow, I share in that pain and thereby help the one who is hurting. But today, I see that I am part of the problem. And, more than likely, this truth applies to more than just the body of believers.

Psychologists say that the very things we complain about in others or “see” in the behaviors of others, these are our own bad habits as well. If we observe selfishness in others, we are probably acting selfishly ourselves. When we blanch at someone’s rudeness, chances are we are equally rude.

So, what do I do more than anything else? Judge others. And sure enough, I am also being judged. [Matthew 7:1] When am I going to get this?

I have never understood people, particularly teens, who cut themselves. They say it’s to “feel something” because they have become so numbed by emotional pain and depression. Am I hurting others with my judgments and “tongue” for the same reason? Do I think I will feel better by continuing in this habit?

Don’t I want love as much as the next person? Of course. Then, it’s time to radically change my weapons. It’s time to heal, to love, to mediate, to listen, to accept, to trust. It’s time to really love unconditionally the unlovely, the seemingly dishonorable, the broken.

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Acts 18:18b
…before he [Paul] sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.

There is a small difference between taking a vow and making one. I believe taking a vow is accepting an existing agreement such as taking a vow of celibacy (how that is done is already established). While making a vow is something you create yourself, like making a vow to stop or change a particular behavior.

In modern times, more and more couples are “making vows” (that is, they are creating their own marriage vows) as opposed to taking on a traditional vow. In an age of casual divorce, many couples remove the “til death do us part” bit. It’s easier that way.

In ancient times, vows were serious business. There was often an outward sign that a vow had been taken to alert the community (like the cutting of hair). These practices may have served as another form of accountability for the person making the vow. Historically, the wedding ceremony was similar: a public voicing of the vow and then a symbolic exchange of rings to signify the vows were made and accepted.

But the seriousness of vows has been lost in our age. We have softened vows into “promises.” And somehow, promises hold less power and are often broken. How often do we say, “I promise … I will …” and then don’t. There is no apparent result. There is no cost.

I maintain there is a cost however. The cost is within. Broken promises break the heart of the one to whom the promise was made and hardens the heart of the one who made the promise and broke it. The effects of broken vows is even worse.

If a vow is made before God, then the breaking is not only between the people, it’s a triad vow and includes God in the mix. Broken vows give pain to God as well.

Keep me mindful this day of my words and thoughts. Oh God, keep me in the circle of your covenant with me.

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Acts 7:51
You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

It’s such a temptation to use a public forum like this to pontificate about the condition of the church or the condition of all the “others” who are not in God’s will or plan. But today I realize again how important it is for me to show my own heart. Oh sorrow, it is buried again beneath the layers of self-deception.

The heart is tricky because it regrows layers even after it’s been circumcised. These regrown layers may start out very thin and almost indiscernible at first, but eventually, layer upon layer forms and the heart is back to where it was before the Holy Spirit touched it. As the layers accumulate, the hardness begins to set in and although the mind and body can go through the motions of worship and service, the heart is no longer involved.

Some of the symptoms: a cavalier attitude toward corporate worship, missing times with God, a quick temper, a judgmental cattiness, overwhelming tiredness, forgetfulness, looking for change for the sake of change, putting others under the microscope, dropping responsibilities, indulging the body, resisting the Holy Spirit, just to name a few.

I don’t think I’m at the totally hardened stage yet … obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing today.

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” It’s really quite simple, acknowledge what is happening and be chastened by the truth of it. It goes right along with repent. It goes right along with choice.

God does not come in with a sledge hammer or a fancy butcher knife to do heart work. Instead, like a child who runs to a parent and shows the injury, God brings comfort and then gently removes the harmful effects. God cleans the layers of dirt and grime and if necessary, the scab that his holding in infection. God uses truth with love.

I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t like placing myself in places where I might get hurt. I hide my fears with layers of humor and bravado and chameleon-esque behaviors. In this way, I can keep people out of the tender places, I can control the connections. I know how to hide.

Oh, “refiner’s fire,” come and burn away the dross. Give me courage to be transparent and authentic. Give me courage to accept my tender places.

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