Matters of the Heart: Character

Good EggGod, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me.  Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.  See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,  and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—the path that brings me back to you.  —Psalm 139:23-24  (The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.)

#Character issues disqualify us from promotion by God far more often than lack of talent, geographic advantage, education, or even resources. Can God trust me….you….us? God wants to use us to fulfill His purposes in the earth. Some of those purposes are big, some are small. In either case, we need to be reliable and trustworthy to the One who created us, just as much so as if He were calling on us to be the next Billy Graham! Even if we perceive ourselves as little fish in a big pond, our character still matters very much to God!

We can choose to be assets or liabilities. How? By honest self-examination and surrender to God. David did this. He invited the Lord to search him, to try his heart, to uncover any wickedness. We know David had a fall, from which he recovered…but his fall was not an ongoing character issue that became his identity. He remained humble and repentant before God, and God honored that. We need to ask ourselves, in the neighborhood, the church, our family, our school/workplace…what are we known for? The reputation that precedes us, yes, can be tarnished by the lies/misconception of others…but how often is the origin for our tarnished reputations our own words and actions (or inactions)? I don’t want people to say of me, “You’d better steer clear of Lisa…she will stab you in the back, she’s lazy and unreliable, you have to walk on eggshells around her because she’s so easily offended, you can’t believe a word she says, don’t say anything in front of her that you don’t want spread all over the place, she won’t finish what she starts…” On and on.

If in our dramatic laments about why things aren’t going right for us, it’s always the other person’s fault, it’s probably not.😉 If we hear rumors about ourselves that are unsavory, it’s a great time to evaluate what we need to change and then go to God for help. Those character flaws CAN be healed if we will own up to them and work on them. Left undealt with, we are driving through life with bad brakes and it eventually will catch up with us.

Lord, help us to be very honest with You and ourselves. You know our weaknesses and You also know our willfulness. Your strength is made perfect in our weakness when we lean on You to help us. Our will, however, is sure to get us in trouble if we rebel from aligning with Your will. Jesus, over and over, submitted His will to Yours; and He was the example for us to follow.

Reveal to us, Holy Spirit, when there is an ugly nature in us that needs dealt with. Whether it’s lust, infidelity, pride, unforgiveness, spite, cruelty, intimidation, prejudice, a lying spirit, dishonesty and cheating, a talebearer, a betrayer, a spirit of laziness, rebellion, hatred, insecurity, negativity, undisciplinedness, grumbling, jealousy, or fear—we lay our entire selves on the altar and ask You to sanctify us and purge us of anything unholy that would cull us from kingdom usability and trustworthiness. We renounce and reject any spirit that would attach itself to us and defile the pure gifts You have given us. We will not make excuses or blame others or be offended over Your attempts to prune away what disqualifies us. When we represent You in the earth, may we represent You well. Help us never to bring reproach on Your name, Your family, Your kingdom!

May it be said of us, even by those who don’t necessarily like our personality quirks or the way we look, “Blessed is he/she who comes in the name of the Lord!” Conform us to the image of Your Son. Fill us with a refreshing overflow that lifts the atmosphere in every room we enter. Make us fit for the kingdom—assets and not liabilities! And Lord, help us to reverse undesirable reputations whether or not we earned them. Make us willing to prove ourselves and to submit to those You would place in our lives as mentors and leaders. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wash and Wear

I don’t buy many dry clean only garments these days, since I’m no longer working in a corporate workplace where suits are the dress code.  To be honest, on top of the fact that it gets expensive to maintain something you wear really often, I sweat a lot!  No offense to those who prefer or who must wear formal clothing on a regular basis…but I just flat-out like the concept of stuff that can handle going into the soapy water and taking a good scrubbing as often as it needs it.  And while I don’t doubt that all those chemicals do the trick too, I’m just a wash-and-wear kind of gal.  My needs are pretty simple, so goes my choice of apparel (smile).

I’m so glad that God’s grace provides for us a good washing when we need cleansed from being out in that dirty world.  We can’t wrap ourselves in plastic and walk around to keep our clothes clean, and we can’t be out there without being exposed to some things that need scrubbed off of us when we come back into His presence.   We can live a holy life among a lost world, and we can persevere not to allow the influence of darkness stain our garments; but in truth, each day we stand before the Lord in need of new mercies.  We hear and see things that can bend our thinking and tarnish our purity.  Even in times when we’ve not sinned, our spirit can still pick up the stale odor of the world from just having passed through it—kind of like walking through a shroud of cigarette smoke outside the grocery store (a personal pet peeve of mine!).

God has made provisions for our continual cleaning and re-cleaning.  He knows that we’ll encounter constant challenges to our faith, constant pressures to compromise, subtle foxes spoiling our vines from beneath where we don’t always see them.  Jesus prayed that to the Father about this very thing ON OUR BEHALF!  He said, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”  (John 17:15 NLT) He knew that we need to remain here to be His influence in the earth, and that special provisions would need to be made in order to keep us holy in spite of our surroundings.

Our Lord is the master of cleaning our dirty laundry.  He can lift any stain, press out any wrinkle, and remove any lingering odor of unrighteousness.  He paid an awful price to make possible this holiness we can so freely wear, and He did it not just for our benefit…He intends to present Himself with a perfect, flawless Bride, and she’s not going to have one speck of soil on her wedding garment!  When we allow Him to use the soap of grace, applied against the washboard of loving discipline, and rinsed in the water of the Word, we come out as pure, forgiven, and sanctified as if we’d never been dirty in the first place.  New mercies every single morning!

Don’t dodge the washtub today, and don’t wear those stinky clothes another moment.  You’re not doing anyone a favor by trying to get one more day’s wear out of them!  Step into His presence, receive His forgiveness, and experience the clean of the one true High-Efficiency Washer—Jesus!

“…Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word.  He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless.  (Ephesians 5:25-27 CEB)

©2012 Lisa Crum