Is your heart right with God? Sadly, some Christians seem to have a form of godliness, but they deny its power (2 Tim. 3:5). One of the most frightening warnings of Scripture rebukes every self-satisfied Christian: “Let everyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). Thankfully, the Bible provides us some signs that help us know when our hearts are not where they ought to be. Consider:
We are angry with the messengers of truth — Paul once asked his Galatian brethren, “have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal 4:16). Stephen lost his life because of angry reaction to a much-needed sermon (cf. Acts 7:54-60). The lesson? We ought to be extremely careful how we respond when someone is trying to tell us the truth. When Christians begin to lose focus on what’s important, we may well come to see those who call for Godly change as enemies. Let’s not play the “victim” and unnecessarily make truth-tellers our enemies. Rather let us, “prove all things, hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).
We seek the approval of men above God — When we are more concerned about our own reputation than we are about God’s, we need to repent. The Bible speaks of men who believed in Jesus but refused to embrace His teachings because, “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). There’s a vast difference of motivation between being kind and being political. When the world’s acclaim is what we most desire, our lives and hearts cannot help but be self-centered. The person worried about his or her own reputation will find it difficult to accomplish God’s will. Don’t spend time wondering how to get people to love and respect you. Rather, spend time trying to show love and respect for others (Phil 2:3), and your reputation will take care of itself!
Our surroundings determine our behavior — One of the fastest ways to determine if our hearts are where they ought to be is to consider our behavior in a variety of daily situations. Do we think, talk, and behave differently when Christians are not around? Paul told the Galatians, “it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you” (Gal 4:18). Evidently, some brethren in Galatia had changed their behavior because Paul was not around to rebuke them. Integrity is how we act when nobody is watching. Jesus said, “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (Matt 5:15). Are we letting the light of Jesus shine before all men, or are we allowing circumstances to determine our behavior?
Our lives do not show Christ living in us — Impatience, anger, resentment, bitterness, and negative criticism of others are sure signs that we need to be more Christlike. Unfortunately, too many of us allow these and other Satanic qualities to be seen by those we love the most. Far too many people spend their lives trying to destroy and tear down as much as possible. Sad thing is, they often don’t realize that’s what they are doing! Paul talked about Christianity as a complete change in his outlook on life. He said, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20a). Paul spent his early life tearing down the church with “good intentions” (Acts 23:1). His death with Christ allowed Christ the room He needed to live in Paul, giving him a new outlook, “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20b). How badly we need to stop tearing down what is good and allow Christ to be seen in us more! How’s your heart? Is it right with God? — John Baker