The Jury is No Longer in Session

Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

"This is horrifizing!", I heard Clara (4) tell her imaginary friend on her way up to her room. I was on trial for asking Clara to go clean up her room with Clara serving as chief prosecutor and her imaginary friends sitting as judge and jury. I'm fairly certain they threw the book at me. She had no idea I was overhearing her most private thoughts as she walked upstairs. Her comment revealed that she was obeying on the outside but on the inside she really didn't want to. There are times in my life as well when I obey on the outside but on the inside my heart is rebellious. It is probably just as apparent to those around me. Jesus, the cry of my heart today is to be totally authentic. I don't ever want to pretend or wear a faker's mask. Teach me today how to be sincere in action and thought.

Today's reading is Acts 7:1-21. Yesterday, in Chapter 6, Stephen was chosen as one of the men to oversee the distribution of food to the widows supported by the church (Acts 6:5). He was full of God's grace and power and was able to perform miracles (Acts 6:8). Opposers arose against Stephen and argued with him. When that didn't work, they produced dishonest men who would lie and accuse Stephen falsely (Acts 6:8-14).

Had I been Stephen, I would have been disturbed perhaps even indignant over the false accusation. Just yesterday, someone similarly wronged my husband and my heart was filled with hurt and anger. Stephen, however, was not filled with hurt and anger but love and peace. This showed up on the outside. "All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Verse 15). His faced glowed with the joy and righteousness he had on the inside. Out of love for God's people and a dedication to his calling, he returned their hatred with forgiveness. He answers their accusations with a stirring sermon, which is recorded in Chapter 7 of Acts.

This morning Jesus is whispering into my heart that while it may seem difficult to change my actions, the real locale that needs to change is my heart. God wants to continue to change my heart toward people. If my heart is changed, my actions will be love and grace. Jesus, please help me to stop holding court in my heart. I am not the judge of other's behaviors and actions. I have only one right - the right to love others abundantly and completely as You have loved me. Today I will exercise that right.

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