He was an exhausted and discouraged husband and father. He said, in so many words, "I pray, read my Bible, and go to church. I struggle to do what's right, and people tell me to trust the Lord. But God just sits up there and lets it all happen. What good has being a Christian done for me!?"
A different lady, unrelated, was married to a difficult man. Her dreams of the perfect marriage had long died. I was trying to help her understand her identity in Christ and the love God had for her, and she finally had enough. "Stop! Don't tell me any more that God loves me. I need a husband who loves me!"
Without a doubt, both of these people were suffering from the realities of life in a broken world and from the sins of others. But more than that, they were suffering the consequences of their own poor theology and misplaced desires. In other words:
To the degree that we base our hope in something or someone other than the Lord, to that degree the hope of the gospel will not comfort and satisfy us.
In John 6, Jesus confronts the crowds who have been following him with that truth. He says, in summary, "You are pursuing me out of a selfish motive, in the hopes that I will meet your physical needs. You're excited about me, but for the wrong reasons."
Let's be honest with ourselves. We too sometimes follow the King for the wrong reasons. Yes, we're excited about salvation and redemption, but we're equally as excited to experience physical blessings and a comfortable life, straight from the hand of God.
What does this have to do with your words? Remember, if "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," then what we say to ourselves, to others, and to God will reveal what we truly desire from the Lord.
If you were to listen to an audio recording of what you have said this past week or month or year, what desires would you discover? What theology would be revealed about how you understand and interpret God?
Are you following King Christ because you hope he'll deliver you the good life? Are you asking him to only provide you with blessings in the here and now?
Life today can be good. It's not wrong to have physical blessings shower down on you, nor is it sinful to desire comfort. But our Savior is a Savior, not a genie.
Let's open our ears and listen to how we speak, aloud and internally. The reflection questions below are intended to help. May what we hear convict us and mold us more into the likeness of Christ!
- What makes up the majority of the content in your prayers? Do you ask primarily for physical needs to be met, or do you focus on personal heart change and wider Kingdom work?
- When others were blessed while you struggled, what did your lips reveal about the state of your heart?
- How can you use words this week to encourage a friend to find their hope and satisfaction in Christ alone?