Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
“Search me, God…” is one of the most powerful, transformative requests we can make.
We are asking the Lord to mine the contents of our hearts and reveal to us the ways that we are operating out of our selfish compulsions and unconscious motivations. These, left unevaluated, lead us to indulge our prejudices, distort our perspective, keep us out of alignment with God’s will, harden our hearts, contribute to injustice.
To ask God to search our hearts is to admit that we need his help to see ourselves truly and to bring about change.
Human introspection can be a healthy posture, as we give serious thought to our behaviours, but we inevitably run into two problems. The first (and primary) problem is that we do not have capacity to see ourselves fully or accurately. This means we’re inclined to feed our biases and remain unchanged. The second problem is that, should we see and confront the offensive parts of us, we do not have capacity to resolve these things and we can become stuck and/or overly absorbed with the task of self-discovery (either overwhelmed with guilt and shame or obsessed with exploring our own complexities or both).
It occurs to me, particularly in light of racial tensions, that we desperately need the Lord’s help to search our hearts.
Blindness to our own sinfulness has done damage to ourselves and others in ways we can’t fully know, but, once in a while, we catch a glimpse when a friend or acquaintance dares to confront us about it. If we haven’t built up a discipline of godly self-reflection, such confrontations can level us. We’re keen to defend ourselves and/or dwell on our guilt – both responses leaving us unchanged and ineffective.
The white community is facing criticism. Black family, friends and acquaintances are daring to confront us about it. We’re being asked to do some serious self-reflection as it relates to the way we operate (whether consciously or unconsciously) in the world.
Search me, God, and see if there is any [untrustworthy] way in me.
Can I be trusted?
* to listen
* to care
* to operate without agenda
* to bear witness
* to speak the truth
* to offer genuine help
* to see beyond my own perspective
* to put another’s interest above my own
* to be equitable
* to make the effort
When my heart’s contents are uncovered by the Lord, I see that I, indeed, cannot be trusted.
(If ever I have listened, cared, operated without agenda, spoke truth… it has been by the grace of God through Jesus and the power of his Spirit.)
Though this is a painful revelation, under the supervision of the Lord who has searched my heart, there is no need for denial or defensiveness because the one who revealed it can be trusted. He is all things Truth, Goodness and Beauty and he leads me in the way everlasting. As I repent of my offensive ways and surrender to him, I am guided toward transformation, to become more like Jesus.
Aligned with God’s will, our hearts soften, our prejudices are replaced with his Love, our distorted view with his Truth, and by his Beauty we become free, equipped and empowered to tackle injustice.
Search me, God.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
2 Corinthians 7:10-11
A word of freedom to believers: activism is a type of worship.
We love God by standing up for righteousness in hostile places.*
Few people want to lose friends, influence, or privilege, so we subdue our voices instead of speaking up for justice. But this is the risk of effectively following Jesus. Some won’t understand and will reject you; others will be freed by it. There will be sorrow and great joy in siding with freedom.
For some of us, activism is a temperament. For others, activism is obedience.
Be challenged to consider your role in loving God in this way and BE FREE to do so.
“Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”
Free people free people.
*Quotes from Gary Thomas’ Sacred Pathways – learn more about activism as a worship style/way to love God by reading this book and/or consider the examples throughout scripture: Moses, Elijah, Elisha to start.
It must be that judging others comes naturally to us as humans, or perhaps is a habit easily acquired. Because it is no work to judge someone else, really. It is so simple and effortless, we can do it sitting down. We can even judge others without personally engaging with the subject matter or people involved. We can do it without research! It only takes a headline to brew our heated condemnation.
When I’ve judged others, I’ve felt like I’ve worked, though. I’ve felt good about the “balance” I’ve set aright with my views. I’ve felt justified in my dismissals. I’ve felt the emotional rush of my well-crafted opinions. Yes, there is satisfaction in judging others that would lead me to believe I have accomplished work. But I shouldn’t be deceived that there are rewards that extend beyond my own gratification. Truthfully, even those are fake rewards – a deception that breeds destruction.
The true rewards come when I open my heart to others, when I love first instead of judge, when I engage in a posture of grace. This is no easy habit, but it is worthy work.
I was reminded of this when I read an old Facebook status of mine posted 8 years ago, a quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It struck me then and fresh again today.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as ourselves.
Lord, help us love.
It’s such a small word and, on the face of it, so simple.
In the gospels, Jesus tells his followers to ask. And he doesn’t say it just once.
Ask for provision. Ask for help. Ask and it will be given to you.
The promise of ASK is that you will RECEIVE.
You almost get the impression that Jesus wants to answer our prayers!
I have over the years, but more purposefully lately, put this small word – ask – to the test, to take up Jesus’ offer. I’m trusting him that this isn’t a mind game. He isn’t holding out the carrot just so I’ll pull the cart.
To ask is to trust. I want to trust the Lord. I will ask.
Though I’ve had increased eagerness to ask, I’ve also been surprised to find within me a resistance to asking – a desire to say instead, I’ve got this one, or this doesn’t require God’s attention, or I don’t want to…
I’ve needed help and instead of asking, I’ve chosen to worry, I’ve chosen to wallow. How strange.
I’m not sure what the barrier is to getting to the asking, but now I’ve got the word written big on my wall and in my heart: ASK.
I’ve been asking.
And I’ve discovered a few important things:
- The first is that the Lord cares about the minutiae. I have very specifically asked and the Lord has very specifically met my needs, ranging from a just affordable car repair and a surprise financial gift to cover the rest, a healed and healing friendship, plus inner peace, joy and increased faith, to name a select few. This is uniquely thrilling to consider that the Almighty God is so intimately aware of our needs and ready to meet them.
Let me clarify, this is no prosperity gospel. This is not a get rich scheme. The Lord gives us [more than] enough – a sustainability of life and faith.
- The second is that I have sensed more than ever the Lord’s closeness. To ask is to acknowledge that he’s within earshot. Even closer! He’s hears our heart-whisper. He interprets our groaning. He reads my journal! That’s OK, I’ve asked him to. Even the instant peace of placing our circumstances in his hand is a beautiful answer to prayer because it is to know he is close.
- Asking also means that you necessarily have to let go of pride. If you’re not asking then you must believe that you do not need to. This is the wandering we are prone to.
In the gospels, even the skeptics asked Jesus questions, though they had the wrong motives and evil intent. Jesus still answered. He still offered a worthy challenge, a beautiful nugget of truth even as he acknowledged their hardened hearts.
Eventually, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, those who should have known him best, being unable to trap him nor to receive the life-giving truth he offered, STOPPED ASKING. Matthew 22:45 is, to me, one of the most heart-breaking verses in the Bible, “…from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
- If you ask questions of the Lord, he will ask questions right back. Your faith with be tested by what he asks of you. Because this is not a one-sided relationship. The purpose of the exercise is not to “receive a sign” to make Jesus prove himself to you – as if he needs to #clapback – but to ask in faith believing in the Lord’s love for you and power to answer.
Do not be afraid to ask. Take Jesus at his word. Ask and you will receive. Don’t stop asking. Keep asking. Ask. Just ask.