Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14
Don’t you hate it when you write a letter, an email, or an IM and the person for which it was intended didn’t get it? Oh, I don’t mean that they didn’t receive it, but they just didn’t understand what you were trying to say. The problem: it’s often difficult to convey attitude when we write, especially when its our purpose to convey the truth without a lot of fluff or political correctness (PC). Paul was having a similar problem with the Corinthians.
While these occurrences tend to frustrate and anger us, Paul chose to diffuse the tension with Godly praise. What’s the difference between Paul and the rest of us? A clue is found in our refrigerators. Tip it over and what falls out? The answer of course is, what’s ever inside of it. The same is true for the heart: when it’s nudged the true contents are discharged.
We plainly see that Paul’s heart was filled with love and adoration for Jesus Christ.
For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45B
- Is it your practice to ask the Lord to search your heart?
- Do you see the guy who cut you off or took your parking space as an answer to that prayer?
- What spilled out of your heart as you slammed on the brakes to avoid a collision?
But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, And You have tested my heart toward You. Jeremiah 12:3a
In these types of situations, what if instead of rage we chose gratitude; after all, didn’t God just answer your prayer? I don’t know about you, but having my prayers answered so emphatically is extremely cool! What if instead of rolling down the window and cursing, we paused to thank the person, sharing how God just used him to answer your prayer?
Talk about a witnessing opportunity!
The Abnormal Heart
Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Acts 16:22-26
Paul’s heart was filled with love for Jesus and when it was disturbed, prayer and song sprang forth naturally. Paul did not have Acts 16 to read, therefore he could not have intellectually surmised,
Ok Silas, all we need to do is pray and sing and God will break these chains and open these doors.”
That’s Not Adoration, That’s Manipulation
Paul’s reaction was not normal and I submit to you that Paul was in the habit of:
- Asking God to search his heart, and
- Submitting himself to whatever changes God wanted to make.
Paul was submitted to the sanctification process. The proof of that is seen in what oozed from his heart when it was squished. What’s oozing from your heart today?
For He knows the secrets of the heart…Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties…And give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men) Psalms 139:23; 44:21b; 1 Kings 8:39b