On searching our hearts and doing justice

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.
Psalm 139:23

“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

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