I'm excited to talk about THE HEART today! This is a lengthy post however, the heart is such an important topic, that it deserves ample time to discuss. Grab your journal and let's go!
Growing up, I always saw my mother take great care of her home. As a matter of fact, she seemed to really enjoy taking care of her home -- from doing the laundry, to cleaning and cooking, my mom had it all taken care of. She was and still is great at all of the above! As I grew older and learned more about my responsibilities in my own home as a Christian woman, I realized that engraved into the minds of many women, is that a well-kept home is identified by a clean sink, folded laundry, vacuumed floors and a good meal on the stove.... everything that I witnessed growing up. It wasn't until I walked into my own home a few years ago, that I felt heaviness. My home was clean and all of the chores had been taken care of, but the atmosphere in my home was unpleasant. Could it be that even though I had a spotless home, that my home was still a wreck? Unfortunately, yes!
I had a heart condition, as many of us do. I was filled with anger, cares of the world, confusion, selfishness, pride and so much more. Yes, my home was spotless but my heart wasn't. I was unknowingly spewing out the matters of my heart throughout my home. Wherever I'd travel in my home is where my heart also went and made itself at home!
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9. There is so much going on in our hearts and if we aren't careful, we'll live out the undetected matters of our heart. They will penetrate our homes, jobs, and those closest to us. That's why it's important to do a heart check, frequently. Just as we visit the doctors for an annual exam to determine the state of our physical health, we must visit the Doctor, Jesus Christ, regularly to see if we are in good spiritual shape and to stay in good spiritual shape.
When you're at your doctor’s office, the nurse will have you step on the scale to record your weight, will take your temperature and will check your blood pressure. These three basic tests reveal so much about your physical health! Well, it's just as important for us to run through the same series of tests, using Godly principals as our measure of good spiritual health.
This week, we'll use these three basic tests to focus on the condition of the heart.
Stepping on the Scale: If you could take your heart and literally place it on a scale, how much would it weigh? I'm talking about everything that's in your heart, from love, to anger, to worrying about how the bills are going to get paid, all the way to marital issues. How much would your heart weigh? Many women are spiritually obese and don't even know it!
Here are a two things that can cause spiritual obesity:
Overeating: When we physically eat too much over a long period of time, we become lethargic, which then leads to weight gain and other serious health issues. Spiritually, our hearts can become weighed down by the consumption of too many of life’s problems: financial burdens, insecurities, sin and more. As a result, we become tired and lethargic spiritually. Life has its share of trials, some of which we create ourselves, but that doesn't mean that we have to make a buffet out of it, stopping in daily to partake in an array of cares and sin. "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." (Matthew 6:27-29). God lets us know that worrying about the cares of the world gets us nowhere! As a matter of fact, worrying can make us physically sick and also unpleasant to be around. You can always spot a woman who is filled with the cares of this world -- her speech reveals it -- usually through complaining! "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." (Luke 6:45). We must trust God with our health, bills, relationships, employment, children and our LIFE! We must also be careful not to indulge in sin, for we know that "the wages of sin is death but that the gift of God is everlasting life" (Romans 6:23). What sinful activity are you indulging in? We can't reap the rewards of being a Christian while indulging in a lifestyle of sin. This doesn’t mean that we don't ever sin -- because we do -- daily. This means that we must make the choice and effort by the strength of Christ, to die to our fleshly desires and set boundaries to not fall into sin. Going on a spiritual diet will require us to examine ourselves (what's in our hearts) and to begin to exchange the cares of life with God's Word. It's also an exchange of our will for God's will for us. It's an intentional, daily exchange.
Lack of Exercise: We all know that when we don't get ample physical exercise that we gain weight. The same goes with the matters of our heart! Just as the lack of physical exercise can cause health problems, so can the lack of spiritual exercise cause heart problems. Just as physical exercise helps push toxins out of the body, spiritual exercise helps rid our hearts of toxins. You know, anger, malice, resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness, rage, hate, lust, pride, etc.? Spiritual exercise burns away the fat and releases toxins from worry, fear, and even from our sin. This doesn't mean that you will be perfected, but it does mean that you can live a much more pleasant life that is pleasing to God. This also means that you can have a much more pleasant atmosphere in your home. So, what is spiritual exercise? The basic health regimen that doctors discuss with their patients is to do at least 30 minutes of cardio daily. This could be running, swimming, riding a bike, etc. The doctor will also tell you to eat plenty of vegetables and drink plenty of water. Spiritually, we must spend time with God by studying His Word and submitting ourselves to His will for us, daily. We must also be intentional about our prayer life and our praise life. See, the great thing about spiritual exercise is that studying God's Word, combined with prayer and praise, is a triple threat! You can intercede through your prayer and you can break chains through your praise, while standing on the Word of God with confidence! Spending time with God also makes you stronger! If you don't spend time exercising your faith, you put yourself at risk for spiritual obesity.
Taking Your Temperature: The average core temperature of a healthy human is considered to be 98.6 degrees. When you are physically healthy, your core temperature remains steady. When you are unhealthy, your temperature can shoot up and down, which is a key indicator that you are sick. Well, our hearts are similar -- a simple way to take the "temperature" of your heart is to examine your posture/attitude. Do you go from 0-60 in a split second when someone says or does something you don't like? Do you complain all the time? Are you an emotional rollercoaster? As you grow in your Christian walk, your posture should become more balanced -- not that you will be perfect, but that you will develop self-control and demonstrate emotional stability over time. You should grow to a place of not allowing external circumstances take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. When people are around you, they shouldn't be filled with caution because they don't know how you'll react at any given moment. If your temperature is all over the place, examine the weights of your heart. See what's in your heart that's causing you to go from 0-60 in a split second and ask God to help you become more like Him, daily. The result of your temperature (posture/attitude) reading is an external indicator of an internal [heart] problem. When you are all over the place, you confuse your friends, children and spouse. They don't know when you are having a good or bad day. They also don't know when to approach you or when not to approach you. Ultimately, you create an anxious environment in your home. Your home becomes a hostile prison instead of a safe place.
Checking Your Blood Pressure: is simply a measurement of the pressure it takes for your heart to force blood out of your heart and into arteries. Arteries carry oxygenated blood throughout your circulatory system, to every cell, tissue, and organ within your body. Having high blood pressure can cause an array of health problems. To lower blood pressure, your doctor may recommend medication, healthy eating, exercise, rest and removing stress from your surroundings. We already discussed healthy eating (spiritual obesity) and [spiritual] exercise. So, let’s look at rest and removing stress from your surroundings. Women tend to take on more than we are required to. Somehow we have developed a "savior" mentality, where we must account for other's failures and step in to help everyone all the time. As a result, we not only tire ourselves out but we become resentful and bitter. We position ourselves to be a savior but lack Savior capabilities; and when our extreme efforts aren't appreciated or reciprocated, we snap! "How dare you!" "After everything I've done for you!" "If it weren't for me!" "You can at least say thank you!"... Sound familiar??? As much as we may care about someone, even our spouse, children or parents, we are not their savior! Hard pill to swallow, huh? “You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3). Taking on a savior mentality is not only draining, it is downright dangerous -- we are attempting to take the place of God when we do this. You must not worship other gods and you must not become a god yourself.
We are VERY limited in our ability to care for others (yes, this still includes our spouse, children and family) and when we overexert ourselves beyond our limitations, we become stressed and we lose sleep. Have you ever been around a person who was stressed? Their demeanor is very unattractive, they are snippy or lack enthusiasm, and may even want to isolate themselves. They are just not pleasant to be around. Now, think about how you being stressed and tired all the time is reflected in your home! God's desire is that we submit to Him and trust Him -- not only for ourselves, but also for others. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Allow God to do what He does best -- to be your God! Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are the cause of your high blood pressure:
Am I always bailing people out of trouble? YOU ARE NOT GOD!
Do people always call me to vent and complain? You are not a dumping ground!
Do I get aggravated because I have to do everything around the house because my spouse won't help? Do you give him room to help and to fall short without him receiving your wrath????
Am I always lending out money that I don't have to lend? You are not a personal bank!
Am I overextending myself to be likable and loved? You are a daughter of the Most High -- let Got fill you up! Only He can love you the way you need to be loved!
Am I giving myself away to people who constantly use me? Don't cast your pearls before swine -- you are too precious to God to devalue yourself!
Sisters, the matters of your heart greatly impacts the atmosphere in your home! What's going on in your heart is manifested in your appearance, speech and posture. Take the time to self-evaluate. We all need it! Are you overeating life’s problems and indulging in sin? Are you emotionally stable? Are you taking on too much?
Let's move forward together, submitting our entire being to God, so that His character may be displayed in our heart and home!
Mark your calendar to join me for part two --"The Home" on Monday, January 15, 2016. Don't forget to Share with a Sister!