Is there evidence of a Christian heart?

livingstones

Few things hurt as badly as hearing that someone you considered a friend has torn you apart in a conversation, questioning your motives, your competence, or your character. It’s too common, even among the family of faith, our Christian brothers and sisters. And, it’s not all about ‘those people,’ either.  Have you, like me, ever walked away from a conversation and wondered, “Why did I say that? Why did I let myself go there?”  A morsel of gossip gets shared, or a critical comment slips in, or a demeaning statement is left unchallenged.

It happens to all of us. On the positive side, think of one of those conversations that started down that pathway that was gently and wisely steered back to higher ground.  For me, at least, it feels wonderful to express grace when the perceived failings of another becomes the topic.

In my ongoing readings of Peter’s first letter to the Christian church, this was what I read today.  Because of the redemption of Christ, “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:1-5, NIV)  The Spirit weaves so much truth into those few words.

When Jesus is Lord of life, when the Spirit lives in us, our heart changes and one of the evidences is what comes out of our mouth. No more malicious words, no more hypocritical words, no more slanderous talk that tears at others. Jesus taught us that “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” We cannot hope to filter our words successfully if our heart is dark. If the Spirit is invited to live in us, however, the overflow of our words will be life-giving, like refreshing water! Peter urges us to feed on Christ, with the eagerness of an infant at her mother’s breast. “Crave pure spiritual milk,” he writes. An infant received complete nourishment in mother’s milk and grows. So will we, if we are fed by Christ.

Note that Peter switches metaphor but continues similar thought. An evidence of our maturity is our willingness to be ‘built into a spiritual house. The old selfishness, the me-first attitude that protects self-interests, is replaced with a desire to be linked with others in the faith, fitted together like stones in a magnificent Temple!  “Living stones,” he calls us. Think about that.  The ‘together’ aspect of our Christian faith is further explained by reminding us that we called into a ‘holy priesthood.’  Peter is not, at all, emphasizing a position of power or control. He is urging us to selfless service.  A true priest of God does not do what he does for himself. He serves – God, first; then others on God’s behalf.  And, this life becomes like a pleasing offering to God.

Oh, what an amazing passage.  It starts with the ugly things of natural humanity and moves to the beauty of the life redeemed. As you move through life today, listen to the overflow of your words. Do they reveal Christ at home in your heart?  Consider if you are letting yourself be called ‘together,’ as befits the Spirit’s work; or if you have slipped into becoming an instrument of divisiveness.

Our word from the Word is another translation of Peter’s words. May the Spirit cause them to be like mother’s milk to us, causing us to grow, to mature, and to become holy people in the service of the Lord.

“So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God. You’ve had a taste of God. Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.” (1 Peter 2:1-5, The Message)

________

Word Of God Speak

(an older song from MercyMe)

I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

 Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see Your majesty
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
(Word of God speak)

 I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

 I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay

 Bart Millard | Pete Kipley © 2002 Simpleville Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Wordspring Music, LLC (Admin. by W.B.M. Music Corp.)

Songs From The Indigo Room (Admin. by Word Entertainment, LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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