An Honest Heart (July 14)

July 14

An Honest Heart

Today’s Scripture Readings:  Psalm 73:1-14 | I Chronicles 16:37 – 18:17 | Romans 2:1-2 |  Proverbs 19:8-9 

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 2: 1-24

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Romans 2:1 NIV).

“Pastor Jeff, that was a great sermon today! I only wish that Mrs. Jones was here today to hear it.” I’ve heard words like that many times as people were leaving the church after a Sunday worship service. Nearly always the person who makes the comment is completely blind to the fact that they probably needed the message more than Mrs. Jones did.

Who needs the good news (the gospel, which is the power of God)? We all do. Especially those of us who don’t think we need it.  In Romans 1, Paul points out the obvious fact that those living in idolatry and lifestyles characterized by sin, need good news. Chapter 2 points out that the one who thinks they have it all put together needs the good news too.  The one who is tempted to think the sermon was for someone else— The one who is quick to point the finger—whose heart is filled with self-righteous pride, needs the good news just as much or more than the one they are so quick to condemn.

Some of us play the religious game very well. Paul points out that the good news is about life transformation, not playing religious games. The Pharisees played religious games better than anybody. And Jesus had some harsh words for them because of it.

Often the one who finds it most difficult to enter the kingdom is the religious one; the one who is not aware of their need. It is also a cause of lukewarm living. The diagnosis of the lukewarm Laodicean Church was this: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing,’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Who needs good news? We all do– especially the self-righteous. The world already has enough bad news. We don’t need any more self-righteous judges pointing their fingers and bringing shame and condemnation. What it needs is people who have opened their heart to Jesus and are allowing his love to heal their hearts and flow through them to bring words of healing and salvation to others.

What brings people to Jesus? Not your condemning attitude. Too often the church comes across as bringing condemnation instead of hope and love. Listen to the words of Paul:

“…do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

God’s kindness, tolerance and patience: that sounds like good news to me!

Open your heart to Jesus and allow him to deal with your self-righteousness and pride.  Experience a fresh touch of his love, his kindness, his tolerance and patience.  Then you may actually have some good news to share with a world that desperately needs it.

Spirit of God, search my heart. Point out and pull up any remaining roots of pride and sin. Give me the grace I need. Pour out your love into my heart. Fill me and empower me to bring love and grace and kindness to others. Amen.

About pastorjeffsneighborhood

Born and raised in Minnesota, I have served in churches in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon and California. I am a graduate of Crown College (MN) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary (OR). I have also done additional graduate studies in New Testament Studies at the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA). I am also a graduate of the College of Prayer. Having served as the Academic Dean and Program Director at Horizon Institute of Los Angeles for several years, I have returned to the pastorate and serve as Pastor of Big Trees Community Bible Church in Arnold, CA.
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