Watch Your Heart!

by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley discusses how our behavior will eventually reflect the condition of our hearts.

Hey, growing up in our home, and I bet your home was similar, there were certain words that were off limits in our home. And again, I grew up in a different generation than some of you, but here was one of the big ones. In fact, I, it’s hard for me to even say this out loud in church, okay? Darn. I was like, you know, this was like, not being able to say this word was a fence rule. A fence rule is a rule that keeps you from breaking a worse rule. And so in our home, we didn’t wanna say the word that sounded kind of like darn. Not yarn. Start with D anyway.

And so if my parents thought, if we don’t say this word, you know, the kids won’t drift over to another word. Because the ultimate rule was no cursing or we didn’t say cussing. I don’t know if that’s a southern thing or not, but no cursing or cussing, either one. So we had kind of these fence rules around some words. And the threat was, this is really going to show you something. So the threat was if you cuss or curse, if you say one of these words, especially that word, you’re gonna get your mouth washed out with soap. Now I think my parents only said that because their parents said it and their parents said it. Well, I don’t know where that began. Because what is that, you could probably be arrested today for mouth, washing a child’s mouth out. But so, but that was the threat.

Now in our family, Sandra and I, we raised our kids a little bit different. She, I used to say we, but let’s just be honest, she homeschooled our kids. And the goal was to put ’em into public high school. To go from home school to this big five, eight, you know, public high school. I don’t know if that’s a good parenting approach, but that was what we were gonna do. And so to prepare them for that, I actually had to teach all of our kids the bad words, okay? Because we didn’t talk like that in home school, you know. Nothing kind of slipped out that I’m aware of. I was at work most of the time. But anyway, so I had to teach them all the, you know, the bad words. And after that I said to ’em, that I’m saying it, but you don’t say it, which is weird. And then later, Sandra circled around and taught ’em all the combinations. But I let her do that.

Anyway, back to my story. So sure enough, we lived in Miami at the time, so that meant I was in the fourth grade or younger. We had a little tiny house, a little sidewalk that went out to the the sidewalk that connected all the houses in the row. And I’m standing out there. I still remember this. And my friend had knocked his bicycle over and I’m on my bicycle. We’re just riding up and down the little sidewalk there. And I stopped and I said, “Get that darn bicycle outta my way”. And I looked up and literally my mom, I don’t know how moms do this, she was standing on the front porch. I, no lie, she’s standing on the front porch. I look up and she gave me that, you know, thing, you know.

Now, later she confessed to me, she had no idea what it meant to wash a child’s mouth out with soap. This was just a thing people said, you know. Since the bad words come out, we’re gonna wash your mouth out. So she took me in our little tiny bathroom and she took my toothbrush and rubbed it in a bar of soap, and she brushed my teeth with soap. And so and thus began my lesson or continued my lesson with what we call these days, behavior modification. She was modifying my behavior. It was cause and effect, right? I learned to monitor my behavior to avoid certain unpleasant effects. And I continued to do that through my childhood. And we’ve never met in most cases, but you continued to do that through your childhood as well. You’ve modified your behavior. We all have. Why? Well, because we want to get dates and we want to get second dates, and we want to get invitations, and we want to be invited back and we want to do get jobs. So we, you know, modify our behavior for job interviews. And it goes on and on and on and on.

As a pastor, just to be personal for a moment, this is really important for me. There are behaviors that I could do that would cause me to lose my job that might get you a promotion where you work, okay? So we all kind of have to figure this out, you know, in terms of our environment. But we’ve all gotten pretty good at monitoring our behavior. But as it turns out, that is not enough. And we’re gonna come right back to that in just a minute.

Today we are in part two of our series if you’ve been keeping up or if you haven’t been keeping up. “Living with Yourself, 3 Habits to Safeguard Your Soul“. Three habits to ensure, this is kind of the theme, three habits to ensure that the self you’re living with internally is the self that’s on display to everybody else. These are habits to ensure that what people see is what they’re actually getting. That there’s integrity between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside. And we set this up last time by saying we’ve all had the experience of hearing about somebody in culture, somebody popular, or maybe someone we know who they’ve been living a double life. And suddenly, you know, they, it comes out that they’ve been living a double life. They got something else going on. They were not the person everyone thought they were. And they get caught and they get caught in a lie. And the family’s devastated. Maybe a career’s devastated.

And when that happens, and we hear about, wow, this has been going on for years, and nobody knew, we either think or say, “How could they, how could they live with themselves? How could they carry on for so long with that going on in the background”? And the assumption of course is, hey, if it was me, I couldn’t live with myself. I could not have the double life and keep it a secret or, you know, have such variation on the themes of my life the way that they did that. That my conscience or my integrity would not allow me to do that. We think I couldn’t do that. But the truth is, you could. You could do that.

Now, you couldn’t live with your current self. But if left unattended, as we said last time, your current self may not be your future self. And your future self might become, might be someone that you wouldn’t even recognize, that you wouldn’t even respect. In fact, maybe that’s the situation you’re in today. You have slowly over time become someone you never intended to be. And you’re carrying a secret that no one knows you’re carrying and you’re thinking to yourself, how did I get here? Well, the reason nobody thinks this will happen to them is because nobody thinks this will happen to them. And the reason people, this happens to people is because the assumption is, well, it can’t happen. But it does. And it happens all the time.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it could happen to you and it can happen to me. And the best way to as keep it from happening is to, number one, assume that it can. And number two, to take steps to ensure that it doesn’t. And that’s what this series is all about. Three habits to safeguard your soul. And when I say soul, I mean your inner life, your interior life, that part of you that no one sees, but the part of you that you go to bed with every night and wake up to every single morning and that you face every single morning in the mirror. Now the theme or kind of the big overarching principle, and whether you’re a religious person or not, this is just true. So this is something to take into consideration, is simply this, that the health of your soul or the health of your interior life, the health of your soul determines your capacity for duplicity.

Now, duplicity is, and you know, the traditional way of thinking about duplicity is somebody, is someone with this group of people and they’re someone entirely different with another group of people. And if those two group of people ever got together to discuss that person, they would think they’re talking about two different people. There’s duplicity. But the other version of duplicity is when someone is something publicly and something entirely different privately, and your, the health of your soul, what’s going on on the inside day in and day out, determines your capacity for duplicity. And here’s what I mean specifically. It determines how wide the gap between who you are and who you pretend to be. It determines how wide the gap between who you are and who you pretend to be grows or can expand before your conscience just can’t take it anymore, before your guilt just can’t take it anymore. Or between, or to the point that you’re eventually found out that the health of your soul determines whether you close the gap immediately.

That’s what we’re gonna talk about today. The health of your soul determines whether you close that gap immediately or if you decide to manage that gap indefinitely. And as we manage the gap, it always gets wider and wider and wider and wider. So I’m suggesting these three habits to ensure that that gap gets closed immediately, quickly, and stays closed. Now, the last time we talked about the first habit. First habit was surrender your will, specifically surrender your will to your Heavenly Father, to wake up every single morning and in some formal way to present yourself to God. Your hands, what you’re gonna do. Your feet, where you’re gonna go. Your eyes, what you’re gonna look at. Your ears, what you’re gonna listen to. Your mind, what you’re gonna think about.

Surrender your resources. Surrender your opportunities, your hopes and dreams, and say, Heavenly Father, I am 100% you. I’m giving all of me to all of you. I trust you because I know you are for me. Basically, you’re taking, you know a little snapshot of Jesus prayer when he taught us how to pray. We’re saying, “Your will be done through me today”. And Jesus says this needs to be daily because that little prayer and that recentering every single day, do you know what it does? It sensitizes your conscience for the rest of the day. You have just surrendered yourself to your Heavenly Father. And when you begin to think in a way, move in way, look in away, you know, act in a way that creates that division between who you wanna be and who you find yourself becoming, the alarm bells go off because, oh, I’ve already dealt with this and I need to take action and close that gap.

So today we’re gonna talk about the second habit. And to set it up, I wanna tell you a little story from the life of Jesus. So one day, Jesus and his disciples, and this is a general term for the general Jesus followers. They’re going along and the Pharisees who are constantly dogging Jesus and sort of in a running conflict, running tension with Jesus everywhere he goes, they issue a complaint and they say, “Jesus, your disciples, the people who are following you, they don’t observe the tradition of the elders. They’re not observing the tradition of the elders”. Now I gotta explain what that is for this to make sense. The tradition of the elders, or the other phrase that you sometimes hear, the Oral Torah, was a list of fence rules that essentially God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and God gave Moses the civil law, all this detailed civil law, for the nation of Israel.

And it was written down, but supposedly, supposedly God also gave Moses an oral law that he did not allow to be written down. And Moses passed that on to Joshua and Joshua passed it on to the priest. And this got passed along generation after generation after generation in parallel with the written law. Now nobody knows if this is true or not. There’s no way to prove it or disprove it because, well, it wasn’t written down. But what we do know is that these unwritten laws were generally fence laws to protect the written laws so people didn’t accidentally break the law of God and defile themselves and put themselves at odd odds with God.

Here’s an example. For example, the written law said no business on the Sabbath. You can’t conduct business on the Sabbath because for ancient Jews and for modern Jews, it’s a day of rest. We get that. The tradition of the elders or the Oral Torah said you’re not allowed to touch money on the Sabbath because if we don’t allow you to touch money on the Sabbath, you won’t accidentally do business on the Sabbath. Well, you can see over time these, the Oral Torah, which again, you know, they were just kind of making it up as they went along, generation to generation kind of tweaking, as you know, things became more civilized and as civilization advanced. This became so onerous. I mean the law was difficult enough to keep. We know from the testimony of first century Jews. But to add to it this Oral Torah that you never really, you were never really sure if you were doing something wrong until the Pharisees showed up and said, “Oh yeah, that’s in the Oral Torah”. Like, you can’t do that. That’s the tradition of the elders.

So that’s the tension that Jesus finds himself in with these, with the Pharisees. And on this particular, in this particular instance, this had to do with how they washed their hands. The written law, as you know, for Jews had a very strict dietary guidelines. We know that. So that was the written law. The Oral Torah, or the tradition of the elder said to ensure that you don’t accidentally put something unclean in your body. There is a specific way to wash your hands. Some say up to your elbow, some say further, but there’s a very specific way you’re supposed to wash their hands. And they had made hand washing in this specific hand washing as much of a law as don’t put certain things in your mouth based on the written dietary restrictions in the Torah that God gave Moses.

So this is the tension. So they come to Jesus and they say, “Jesus, your disciples aren’t following the tradition of the elders. They are not washing appropriately”. Now you need to know, and this is helpful. Jesus had nothing good to say about the tradition of the elders. He was not a fan of the Oral Torah. He saw it for what it was. These are fence rules and you’re using these to control people. And you’re using these to keep people in a constant place of guilt. They never know how to get it right. They never are at peace with God. They’re constantly, you know, on the outs with God because you guys basically just tweak these things and make these things up and maybe your motives are good, maybe they’re not. But Jesus was not a fan of the Oral Torah.

So when the Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples, Jesus decides to use it as a teachable moment. And it’s kind of funny. And so here’s where the text, here’s where we pick up with the story. So Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand”. In other words, I’m about to tell you something and I’m about to explain something that you need to know. And this was for us, this is like a big duh. But for the first century, his first century audience, this was so groundbreaking. He says, “I just wanna be clear. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them”. For first century Judeans and Galilean people who were adhering their lives or you know, defining their lives by the Mosaic law. This was like what? Jesus is like, yes. What you eat does not, this was the important part. What you eat does not put you at odds with God. That’s what it meant to be defiled, to be at odds with God. I’ve done something that’s, you know, I’ve put me at odds with God.

Jesus is like, “What you eat doesn’t put you at odds with God”. And he says this, but what comes out of their mouth, talking about the Pharisees specifically, what comes out of their mouths or what comes out of a person’s mouth, that is what puts them at odds with God. And then this is the coolest part. After he kind of drops this bomb, the text tells us, this is in Matthew and Mark, he just walks off. Listen and learn. I’ve just said something that is so offensive and is gonna drive the Pharisees crazy. And he says, “Come on guys”. And he just literally walks off. And the, you know, disciples are following him. One of the apostles says, “Jesus, hey, you really offended the Pharisees”. Jesus is like, this is my concern. Look, okay, I’m, I don’t care because, and here’s why this is so important. If you’re not a Christian or a Jesus follower, this is so important.

You see, Jesus understood something that they had missed in the first century, that the law was not given in order to please God. The law was given to protect people. The law was for people. And the Pharisees got it backwards. And he would say to them look, you’re like a couple who buys a little bicycle and says, “Wow, we need to have some children so there will be someone to ride the little bicycle”. He’s like, that’s not how it works. The law, people are not for the law. The law is for people. And when you use the law to hurt people, divide people, and to create enmity between God and people, you are misusing, you are abusing the law of God.

Now if you’ve lost faith in the past, you grew up in church and walked away, you know, as I always say, if I heard your story, I bet I’d say, “Woo, me too. I think I would’ve gone with you”. If that, you know, based on your experience with the church, if you had a bad experience and if you grew up in a church or maybe even a family or a religious community of any type where you felt alienated from God because of the way people use the rules, that you got the impression that there’s God and there’s the rules and I am less important than the rules. I’m less important than the law of God. You need to know Jesus would side with you because that’s not what he taught. It’s not how he acted. And that was not the original intent of Torah. It wasn’t the original intent of the Ten Commandments because God is for you. And like a good parent, when God established a law or a rule, it was for the good of the people he established the rule or the law for.

So anyway, so Jesus walks off, the disciples are following him, and they’re like, Jesus, you, oh you, you know, you just offended them. And then one of the apostles says, “And by the way, that might have been clear to you, but what, that’s not clear to us either”. So Jesus decides to have another teachable moment. Sits ’em all down. And this is kind of funny. Like this is Jesus humor. We’re afraid to laugh cuz it’s Jesus. But this was meant to be funny. So maybe you’ll get this. He sits him down, he says, “Are you still so dull”? I mean that’s kind of funny, isn’t it? I imagine Jesus saying to you, “You’ve been with me for a couple years, you still don’t get it. Are you still so dull”? Jesus asked them, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and out of the body”? They’re like, we see that every single day. Okay, what? We’re dull but we’re not that dull. What is your point? And then Jesus goes a little deeper. He says, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them”.

Not what goes in. What comes out is what puts them at odds with God to which they’re thinking. So using the bathroom was offensive to God? I mean, what are you talking about, you know. He’s got their undivided attention. Like I have your undivided attention. This has been the most interesting part of any sermon you’ve ever heard or talk, you know. Jesus smiles. Now gets to his point. He says, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come”. It’s not what goes in that defiles you. It’s what comes out of you that defiles you. It’s what comes out of you that sets you, puts you at odds with God. And so then they’re like, “Okay, so we’re not talking about our bowels. We’re talking about, wait, evil thoughts”? Wait, an evil. This was a new idea. An evil thought can put us at odds with God? And Jesus would say yes. Because everything harmful and everything harmful to other people begins as a thought. And then he gives them a list of examples.

Here’s the kinds of things that come from within. They’re exhibited in the real world, but they begin from within. They begin with the heart. He says, for example, here’s some of the things that come out of a person’s heart. “Sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance”. I mean just listing these things off. And your English text says folly. We don’t even use that word anymore. But essentially it means bad judgment. It’s making bad decisions that impact yourself and impact other people. And here’s what they thought. This is so important. When they hear this list, they think, wait a minute. Those are behaviors directed toward other people, not God.

I thought we were talking about being at odds with God. I thought we were talking about what defile a person or puts a person in bad relationship with God. To which Jesus would say, “It’s exactly what we’re talking about”. Because hurting another person, disadvantaging another person, puts you at odds with God. You cannot be right with God and mistreat another person. This isn’t about this kind of vertical thing I have going on and I can treat all my horizontal relationships any way I want to, but boy, me and God we’re cool. God’s going, I don’t know where you got that. That’s not in the Old Covenant. That’s not gonna be in the New Covenant. You just made that up. That’s what the Pharisees think. They think they can be right with God and mistreat people at the same time. But you are defiled. You are at odds with God when you mistreat another person and anything on the inside of you that begins as a thought, that becomes a behavior that undermines the integrity of, or hurts or diminishes the value of another person, you are not right with God.

This was a huge, huge shift. But this would characterize or was supposed to characterize the New Kingdom that Jesus had come to establish. All these evils, he says, “All these evils come from inside” and that’s what defiles a person. But eating with unwashed hands does not. Now the implication of this, hopefully is so obvious, I don’t even need to state it, but I’ll state it anyway. Here’s what he was saying. Here’s what he was saying to you and to me. He’s saying pay attention. Pay attention to what’s within. Pay attention to what’s going on inside of you because it doesn’t stay there. We leak. You leak. I leak. And most of the time, we don’t even know that other people know what’s inside of us because we leak in such a way that we’re not aware of it. We think we’ve covered it.

But they people walk away and go, “Wow, what’s up with her? What’s up with him”? And the reason I know that is because you do that all the time about people. It’s like he or she thinks that we think they’re fine, but they are not fine. And it is obvious to us because we all leak. Our behavior will eventually reflect. Here’s a Jesus’ point. Our behavior will eventually reflect the condition of our hearts or our souls. So just for an uncomfortable minute, I want us to look at that list again. I kind of spread it out. Look at it a little different. Immorality, adultery, theft. Just look at that list a second. I’m gonna ask you a question. Do you know anyone or know of anyone and certainly you’ve read of someone who lost their family, lost a job, lost a career, lost a reputation, maybe over time, lost their mind over any of these things? The answer is yes. And in some instances, not all.

In some instances, remember how shocked you were? Like not them. I mean they were so kind and they were so nice and this whole time, and I mean, how did that come out of them? I mean, they were just like the nicest people, who’s the nicest guy, nicest woman. I grew up with him. I grew up with her. Went to school with them, you know. Went to grad school with them. Used to work with them. What happened and how did they live with themselves? And the answer is simple. They just did not tend to their soul. They ignored what was going on in their heart because whatever it was that embarrassed them and wrecked their home and caused such damage, it came from within. These were people or that’s a person who was managing the gap instead of determining to close it. And they became a different self. A self they never intended to have to live with.

Now if I can just, you know, make you a little bit more uncomfortable, some of you. For some of you, you look at this list, that’s not somebody you read about or know or a neighbor or someone you used to work with or go to school with. This is you right now. And you, I mean, you always prided yourself on your integrity and telling the truth and you know, you were that man, you were that woman you could always trust. Yes is yes and no is no. And you have created a web of deceit and lies that you’re living with right now. And it is, you are spending expending so much energy to keep that gap going. You’re managing that gap. And every once in a while, there’s a break. In fact, today may be a break for you. Every once in a while there’s a break and you’re honest with yourself and you ask, “How in the world did I get to this”? This is not what I envisioned. Or you remember when you, when you said I do, you meant I do and I will forever and really until death do us apart and you’re the only one for me.

And when you would hear people who were running around their husband or wife, you thought, what losers, and I could never live with myself. I would never do that. And now you find yourself in an emotional affair, actually a physical affair. And here I am talking about it in church and you feel like everybody’s looking at you. They’re not. Everybody’s looking at me. You’re fine. But you just feel that. And here’s the thing. I don’t know your story, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. That was not your intention. You meant it when you made that decision. You meant it when you entered in that covenant with her or or with him. You were so sincere. And now there’s something on the outside and Jesus who’s, you know, compassion personified, is saying to you, “Yeah, but let’s be honest if we’re gonna fix this”. It started on the inside. You, there was a gap and you didn’t close it. You managed it and it got wider and wider and wider. So this is a big deal, right? This is a big deal for our future. This is a big deal for some of us right now.

So the second habit, again, I don’t even need to say it. Now you know what it is. It’s to monitor your heart. It’s to monitor your heart. Pay attention to what’s going on inside. I don’t have to tell you to pay attention to what’s going on on the outside. We’re really good at that. We modify our behavior. I mean, again, you’re sitting here in rows staring at me. I don’t know what you’re thinking about, but you’re so well behaved. I actually think you’re listening to me. I mean, you are so good at this and your mind might be a million miles away, but it’s not like you’re sitting around talking to each other, right? I mean we’ve, we’re good at that. Jesus says, look, hey, congratulations on your modified behavior. Everybody’s behaving. But come on, I love you. I want you to pay attention to that part of you that has the potential to divide you from yourself and the people you love the most and the people who love you the most. Pay attention to what’s going on inside.

And specifically, I wanna give you four things to look at when it comes to monitoring your heart. We talked about these several years ago. I don’t mind coming back to ’em every once in a while. Guilt, anger, greed, and jealousy. Guilt, anger, greet, and jealousy. These four because you know exactly what they are and they have the potential as much or more than anything to rot your soul. They will, to use a Jesus word, they will ultimately defile you. They will ultimately put you at odds with God. And if you don’t close the gap, these four things have the potential to ultimately define you as well. Because you leak. Because they leak. They hurt the people around you. Guilt says, you know what guilt says? Guilt says I owe you. I owe you. I got a secret. And I owe you the truth. I owe you an apology. I owe you restitution for what I took. And you may or may not know I took it, or you may know I did, but I’ve argued and made excuses.

But the truth is, I’m living with guilt because I owe you. I owe you an apology for what I’ve done. I owe you an apology for what I’ve said. And the solution? You won’t even need to write this down. To confess. And when you confess, you’ll make a mess. We talked about that last time. And you don’t wanna make a mess. Let me just say something to you real quick. You’ve already made a mess. There’s no getting around the mess. The question is, are you gonna put a period on the end of that mess and move forward? Are you gonna keep making a bigger mess? And as long as you manage the gap, you’re just making a bigger mess and somebody already knows. I mean, you’re good. You’re just not that good. The people closest to you, they know something’s off. Something’s wrong. They just don’t know what it is. Or maybe they do know what it is, but eventually they’re gonna find out what it is.

So it’s either gonna leak and you’re gonna have to make excuses and eventually fess up. Or you can stand up straight, invite your Heavenly Father into this area of your life and hold him by the hand and say, “I’m going in. I’m gonna confess. I’m gonna get this out. I’m gonna deal with a mess. I want this to end. This is not who I wanna be. This is not where I intended to be in my relationships, in my marriage, at work, with my reputation, whatever it is”. You confess. And when you do, you begin safeguarding your soul. Anger. The driver behind anger is you owe me. You owe me. Your anger. Whenever you’re angry, it’s cuz you’re not getting your way. Whenever you’re angry, it’s because something’s been taken from you. You’re not getting what you deserve. You’re not getting what you want. But in the big anger, the anger that seeps, that free flowing anger that follows people throughout their lives.

Somebody took something big. Took a marriage. They took your first marriage and you can get remarried. But you took my first one. You were unfaithful to me or the way you treated me. And I, and now I can’t go back. I can’t be 27 again. They took your first marriage. They took your childhood. You are still your thirties, forties years old and you’re still, you’re dealing with stuff from your childhood because somebody, the way they treated you, did to you, mom or dad, you’re, they stole your childhood, your self-respect, maybe your reputation. And they owe you and they really owe you. This isn’t imaginary. They owe you cuz they took it. But here’s what you know. This isn’t helpful. They can’t give back to you what they took even if they wanted to. Even if they apologized. We can’t go back in time. We can’t rewind time. You can’t be 18 again. You can’t have a first marriage again. You can’t, you know, bring that first baby home from the hospital again. You, it’s gone.

So you’re stuck and you’re angry and you leak. And the solution, I, we all know the solution. It’s to forgive. And yes, I’ll just own this. It’s easy for me to stand up here and say ’cause I don’t know your story. Now look, most of you, the only version of me you know is the stage version where I’m smart and I know everything and I’m so dogmatic and Andy knows what nobody else knows. But he knows, you know? Well, you know, because of that. Yeah, thank you. Completely wrong, but thank you. I appreciate it, okay.

So let me just, if the people who know me would tell you, okay, if it was just the two of us we’re sitting across the table and you told me you’re story, my inclination would be to give you a pass. So you know what. Everybody else has to forgive, but not you. You get over here. You get a pass, okay? God understands. I’ve heard your story. Now I’m angry at him. I’m angry at them. I’m not sure I can forgive him. They don’t even do anything to me. But based on what you’ve been through, I might give you a pass and say, you don’t need to forgive. Forgiving them is giving them a gift they don’t deserve. But your savior who loves you more than I ever could is not gonna give you a pass because he knows what that resentment is doing to your soul. And he says come on, you gotta cancel that debt. You gotta forgive. It’s rotting your soul and you leak. And people know something’s up and they, there’s just an edge. You gotta forgive. Greed.

This is something no one’s ever admitted out loud. Can’t even see it in the mirror. We have so many excuses. We have so many other names for this. And it’s, greed is fueled by the consumption assumption. That, we talk about that. The consumption assumption is this. If it comes to me, it’s for me. If it’s placed in my hands, it’s to stay in my hands. If I earned it, if I inherited it, if it was given to me, if it comes to me, it’s for me. Greed says, I owe me. I owe me everything that comes to me. And it forces people to compete with your stuff. And we have so many ways around this. We say, “I’m not greedy, I’m just careful. I’m not greedy, I’m just responsible. I’m not greedy. I just like nice stuff. I’m not greedy, you know, I’m just preparing for the future. I’m again, I’m responsible”.

And what greed does is it actually empowers you to excuse a lack of generosity. And by generosity I don’t mean, you know, you roll the window down four inches and slip a $20 bill out the window to the guy and go, man, you feel good. I gave $20. I’m not talking about that. That’s not generosity. That’s something else. A generosity is when you realize everything that comes to me isn’t necessarily for me. And I gotta figure out how to get it to the people God wants me to give it to, percentage wise, systematically, organized. I mean just generosity. We’ve talked about that. And greed. Greed will rot your soul and it trickles out and it triangulates with other people and other things in your life and impacts people. And it puts you at odds with God.

You know what the solution is? It’s like ripping off a bandaid. The solution is to give extravagantly, consistently with a plan to something that’s making a difference in the world. It’s your way of saying to your stuff, stuff, you don’t own me. I own you. I’m gonna give till it hurts. I’m gonna give until it becomes easy to give. Greed, you are not the boss of me. You’re not the king of me. My stuff doesn’t own me. Yes, I like nice stuff and yes I want to be, yeah, but you know what, those are excuses. Greed is not gonna reside in my heart. It’s not gonna reside from within because eventually it’s gonna come out and it’s gonna come out on the people closest to you. It always is. Jealousy. This is the ugliest one of all. Ugh. You celebrate when other people fail. I mean, not out loud, just like inside. You feel like you’ve made, I mean not you. We, I, all of us. We feel like we’re making progress sometimes because somebody else fails. That is ridiculous. That is so ugly.

When you see it in your kids or grandkids, it’s like it bothers you. This will rot your soul, celebrating other people’s failure. And you know what we do? We compete with other people in our head and they don’t even know there’s a competition. They’re just living a happy life and we’re just mad. And the more happy they are, the more angry we get. We’re like, yeah, but you know, and do you know what drives this? It’s this assumption that you need to root out. It’s a lie. Life owes me. Life owes me. Life owes me. And then when you scratch beneath the surface, do you know what you unearth? God owes me. Cuz he could have made you prettier, taller. He could have made, give you opportunities to be richer. He could’ve had you born into a different kind of family to give you more opportunities. He could’ve made you smarter. He could’ve made you smarter than your older brother or your younger sister who you finally find yourself just competing with constantly. He could’ve done that and he didn’t.

So admit it. I think God owes me and I don’t wanna live that way anymore because God has done enough for me. And you know what the antidote or the solution is or the process that eventually gets us to where we need to be? It’s to celebrate. Celebrate what God has given you and celebrate what God has given others. And sometimes you gotta be super overt. You gotta be the first person to the front of the room to tell her or to tell him what a great job they did even though it’s something you should have been able to do. You just gotta be intentional. I am not gonna allow jealousy to reside in me. I’m gonna celebrate their successes and I’m gonna celebrate mine. There’s this old song that was, you know, it’s kind of corny but it’s true, the sentiment is true, is count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done.

You ever heard that song? It’s kind of corny but you know it’s true. It’s waking up every day saying, you know what, I’m not worried about them right now. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So bringing guilt, anger, greed and jealousy into the light. It diminishes their power over you. So monitor your heart and root these things out. Be on the lookout for these four villains. And as soon as you identify ’em, you don’t manage that tension. You say nope. You talk to ’em, right? You say, “Hey, there is no room for you inside of me. I already have a boss. I already have a king. I have a king who is for me. The only thing you four guys do is take stuff from me”.

So as we close, I want to take you in a little brief exercise that I used to do with my kids, Sandra and I would do with our kids when we put ’em to bed at night. ‘Cause I want you to know there’s a ancient proverbs that says, “Watch over your soul for from it flows all the issues of life”. That you know, the the heart or the soul is you gotta watch over it. And we would talk about how do you teach kids to monitor their heart? I mean we’re teaching ’em behavior modification constantly, right? How do you teach ’em to monitor their heart? So we just made this up. When we put ’em in bed at night and I’d say, “Andrew Garrett Alley, is everything okay? Is everything okay in your heart”? Just ask them. Then go through a list of questions.

You know, you mad at anybody? You celebrating anybody’s failure? Does anybody owe you an apology? Just go through these questions. So let me ask you do, do you owe anybody an apology? You got 20 reasons why you don’t need to, but do you owe anybody apology? Are you mad at anybody? Are you secretly celebrating somebody’s failure? Or maybe you didn’t so secretly celebrate someone’s failure with a group of people and maybe you’re a Christian, you did it like this. We need to pray for Frank. They’re having a tough time. Isn’t that sick? Yeah, I don’t know who would do that, yeah.

Is there somebody whose success you need to celebrate publicly just to prove to jealousy you don’t control me, you’re not the boss of me. Do you need to write an uncomfortable check or some uncomfortable checks. Maybe get rid of some stuff. Maybe you got some really nice stuff and you’re like, “Really nice stuff, you don’t control me anymore. I’m selling all of you and I’m giving all the money away. Take that”. There are some people in your family, they would be like, “Huh. Thank you cuz we’re afraid to come to your house. We’re afraid we’re gonna break something, you know. We don’t ever ask you to borrow anything. You just give us money cuz you don’t want us to touch your”. Come on. You wanna live that way? You don’t wanna live that way. Say to your stuff, “I own you. You do not own me”.

Is everything okay in your heart? And here’s the thing. If you want, and I know you want this, whether you’re a Christian or a religious person or a different person, a different faith, you want this. If you want the self you live with to be the self you present the folks around you with, you gotta get this right. You gotta monitor your heart. And parents, you gotta help your kids get this right. Let me, parents, kids who are healthy on the inside, children who are healthy on the inside, are best equipped to resist pressure from the outside. Kids who are healthy on the inside are set up to be able to resist pressure from the outside. So monitor your heart and surrender your will. And don’t miss part three where we talk about habit three of “Living with Yourself, 3 Habits to Safeguard Your Soul“.

You may also like

Update Required Flash plugin