Updated: Nov 6, 2019
In this post, I will be discussing the third lesson I learned from my spiritual heart assessment in Luke 11:37-44. See Lesson One and Two prior to reading :)
The third lesson I think we can learn from these scriptures is that it is important to check our hearts for underlying issues.
In the medical field we check for underlying issues such as cholesterol, current diet, and medications… And when we bring it to someone’s attention, they often say, “oh I am fine” and stop taking their medications and they blow off their heart health.
Or… we tell them to do something like quit smoking and they blow us off and end up back in the hospital.
Spiritually speaking, I think Jesus tells the Pharisees to check their hearts for an underlying issue… and that issue turned out to be pride: We see this in vs 43:
“You love the most important seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplace.”
The Pharisees loved to be respectfully greeted as important members in society.
In Matthew 23:5 Jesus says, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long” he’s basically saying everything they do is done for people to see and be impressed.
“They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.” When I read this, I was like, “this is a weird verse in the Bible, what on earth is a phylactery?“
In case you do not know what a phylactery is, it was a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law.
Inside of them there were scriptures to remind them of who who they should be.
Now the purpose is good. But what the Pharisees were doing were making them really big so that people would notice. Like you would see a Pharisee and think wow that is a serious phylactery, they must be really righteous.
They were doing it to impress.
They were all about elevating their own reputation.
They wanted to elevate their status.
Their underlying heart issue, was pride…
Now again you just want to look at them and be like wow they are horrible.
But it is so much more helpful and painful to go, okay, where do I do this in my life?
Have you ever met someone and in 5 seconds they are telling you their whole resume in the church… what they have done, who they have served…
Or on the flip side, have you ever been in an important conversation with someone and you just have this urge that you need them to know you’re important?
Proverbs 27:2 Once hit my like a pound of bricks when I was doing my heart assessment. It says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth.”
Do you know how hard this is?
Try it. For one week, try not to mention anything about yourself that praises yourself in any way. It is a challenge.
But do you know how freeing it is when you apply this way of thinking? And to your serving? It helps you keep your motives for serving in check and prevents burn out because it cures the underlying issue of pride. You know who you are serving and why you are serving. Your desire to be applauded for serving dies, or desire for appreciation dies, because you’re not longer serving for praise.
The Pharisee’s made their Phylacteries big and long…
Can we agree that we are a little guilty of this? If we are honest, so much of what we say, do, post, is motivated by the desire to elevate our reputation or for praise. Or to make ourselves look righteous… And it’s when we don’t receive that elevation or praise that we become discouraged or burnt out.
But if we look to our savior in scripture, Jesus often chose the lowest positions and even took on the role of a servant. The creator and sustainer of life deliberately chooses the lowest point.
When He walks into a room He is thinking, where is my best opportunity to serve?
Not, what can I do so these people notice and praise me?
I think if we were sitting at the table with Jesus, He might lean across the table and say, “you’re missing something!” it’s not about elevating yourself, or receiving encouragement.
it’s not about showing up to church asking what you can get out of service, it’s about asking what you can give…about lowering yourself.
This is why you are burnt out in your serving.
This is why you are discouraged.
A great example of the right intentions for serving is found in John 13: 3-8
It says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”
Vs 3 says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from super.”
Jesus knew that He had come from God and was going back to God… and these words, motivated his service.
I think these words can transform our thinking when it comes to serving and cure our underlying issue of pride. And in turn, cure discouragement
On the day that we were baptized into Christ and put on Christ, we can serve knowing that we are from God and going back to God. We can know that our service is not in vain. One day, we will be back with God, but until then, we get to be His hands and feet to bless people.
So, the third lesson I learned was that sometimes I need to correct my underlying heart issues by remembering who I work for and why. And let that be the soil from which my servanthood sprouts. This has prevented burn out and discouragement in my life because I know who is watching.
So, you might be sitting here thinking, “Why did she just spend 3 posts on this... Why is having a heart check so important and how does this impact my serving?”
I think we find the answer back in Luke 11
And I think the answer is the fact that the spiritual condition of your heart can be contagious:
Luke 11:44 says
“you are like unmarked graves… which people walk over without knowing it….”
The ancient Jews were obsessed with avoiding tombs. They were so obsessed with avoiding them that they painted them white so you wouldn’t accidentally walk into one. The reason for this is found in Numbers 19. If you touched a dead body you were unclean for 7 days and you couldn’t go into the presence of God. You had to go through 7 days of isolation, a purification ceremony…until you did these things you were banned from the presence of God because you could not go into the temple.
Unmarked graves put them at risk of unintentionally becoming defiled.
With all that in mind, look at what Jesus says… He says you, yourselves are like those unmarked graves.
I think He might be saying, You are so concerned about being undefiled, but you don’t realize that you are the one doing the defiling! You have been given positions of religious authority and influence over the people and you think you are leading them…
You’re telling them, do what we do and follow us and youll be close to God…. But you’re actually leading people away from God
In Matthew 23:13, “he says woe to you, you shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…”
you slam the door on the presence of God in peoples faces.
I think what He is saying is there is a way of pursuing faith… a way of serving… a way of wearing the name Christian, that is empty of the heart of God, that slams the door to the people around us coming to know Jesus.
There is a way of expressing your faith without the heart of Jesus and when people look at it and go,
“well she might be a Christian, but shes not much different than I am. Her life looks just like mine… why do I need Christ?"
Or "that’s what following Jesus is all about? No thanks, I am out.”
It is possible to do this…We do it in the way we talk about people… the way we disagree with people… the way we treat and serve people…the way we fail to serve people…when we speak without the heart of God in words and actions… when we use the words of Jesus as if they are a weapon instead of a doorway to freedom.
It is possible serve and express your faith in a way that is devoid of the heart of God that it just repels people
To your neighbors… your friends… your family… your coworkers… your church family…
A version of serving that is missing the heart of God. It can shut the door on people knowing Jesus. That is why it is soooo important to do a spiritual health assessment on our hearts.
If we don’t deal with what’s going on in our hearts, if we don’t correct underlying issues….we can spread the infection.
If you have a lot of pride, you need to deal with that. If you don’t, you could leave behind a trail of sick and broken people hurt by your brand of Christianity.
If you love wearing the mask of religion, but avoid the small tasks of serving, whoever looks up to you is going to follow your example, and the church will be damaged.
I know this lesson probably feels like a lecture. And when we think about it, when we put ourselves in this situation, this was a table of correction… These were harsh words.
I don’t know if you have ever sat at a table of correction…
As a teenager, dining room table. I received one too many lectures…from my parents:
I would sit there with my arms crossed and my legs pulled to my chest as they would say:
Can we talk about who you have been hanging out with?
How you have been living?
We are concerned about you…
I hated those conversations. They made me so mad and defensive. I even ran away once…
Yep… barefoot. I ran away to the pond across the street in the pouring rain. And my father came and found me. And when he did, he shined the flash light he was holding on me and invited me back inside.
And I think back to those moments of correction, and I know that what my father was saying to me in love, I looked back at him in anger.
But if I had listened, I would have saved myself a lot of heartbreak. And I probably would have saved a lot of people from following my poor example.
Looking back, I can see with clarity that sometimes the most loving thing a Father can do is sit down with us and say, woe… do a heart check…
I pray that your heart would be open as you read these words.
The Pharisees forgot who they were representing, I hope we remember who we are representing while we are serving. A great question to ask yourself is:
“If everyone served the way I served, what would the church look like?”