“I’m exasperated and I hate my life! When will this end?!”
That was the thought I had on that particular morning long ago while struggling to get my 2 year old daughter to let me tie her shoes. Fifteen minutes had gone by, we needed to get started with our day and she was crumpled up in a heap on the floor insisting that she could tie her shoes. Even my best, “no 2-year-old can tie their own shoes” reasoning did not work. If only this was the first time we had done battle!
“Self do it” was a phrase I heard uttered countless times when my children were young. I still think about it with sympathy and amusement whenever I see a mom or dad struggling with trying to help their child or sometimes if I am trying to help my grandchildren and they want to do it all by themselves. They may not say exactly “self do it”, but the meaning is the same…independence, stubbornness, thinking they can do a task that is physically and developmentally impossible. In today’s world I would be taking endless Instagram shots with the hash tag #selfdoit.
Oh that prideful, selfish, “self-do-it” heart that we are born with!
I’ve been thinking a lot about my heart lately. Not from a physiological standpoint – so far I’ve been pretty healthy in that sense – but about the state of my heart from a spiritual perspective. I am one of those born-in-a Christian-home, rule-follower, don’t-want-to-disappoint-anyone, basically “good-person” types. This can be good, but it can get me in to trouble in ways I never realized until I was in my late 20’s and raising a family. I tend to lean on my own strength to not only get stuff done, but to be the type of person I read about in the Bible that Jesus wants me to reflect in this world.
Jesus doesn’t want me following the rules just to follow them.
Jesus wants my heart.
But does Jesus really want me (us) to be a “type” of person? Does He really care that I can follow the rules because that happens to be the way He wired me? While it’s not a bad thing to not be rebellious, I have come to realize that Jesus doesn’t want me following the rules just to follow them.
Jesus wants my heart. All. Of. It. And my heart is the problem. My pride is the problem. My “self do it” is the problem. Sometimes I wonder if my heart will ever be fully captivated and motivated by complete and humble submission to Jesus Christ. My self continually gets in the way. I can look and play the part easily, all the while not engaging my heart in true submission.
Admitting this has been humbling and painful. I have seen this as a pattern that ebbs and flows in my life. I like control. I like to just get my own stuff done. I like to rely on me. But that’s not the heart of my Lord and Savior.
The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 paints an entirely different perspective on the lists we see in scripture. The lists that are in this section of scripture are given to show us what we cannot attain with our prideful, do-it-ourselves attitude. Instead, Jesus invites us to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, and to hunger and thirst after righteousness. To give him a submitted heart that understands our position before a Holy God; to rely on him, and not ourselves.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
I like control. I like to just get my own stuff done. I like to rely on me.
Understanding this passage and submitting to Him has been a journey, and in fact will be a life long journey. I have found that Jesus will reveal to me everything He wants me to dig out of my life once He gets my attention and my heart. It’s then that I begin to let His grace work in me. It is then that the “self-do-it” attitude takes a back seat.
It is the work that is done in us when we spend time alone in His Word, that will allow Him to purge us of pride to help us to let go of the idea that we understand ourselves better than He does, and we will begin letting Him mold us as He finishes His work in us. Philippians 1:6 states “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
When we regularly spend time alone with God, and especially when we see ourselves trapped in that “self do it” mentality, He can show us where our hearts truly are. He can root out the “I’m in control” that our humanness seems to demand and He can show us what He desires of us – a heart that is humbly submitted to Him. A heart that is capable of understanding and living His Word, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year.
How poor in spirit is your heart? Do you mourn your prideful heart? What steps will you take to allow Jesus to begin His good work in you? (Phil 1:6)
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Photo Credit: Eric Lanning, Creative Commons