The heart is a vast and complicated dwelling. It houses the deepest parts of who we are. It is a place that is stirred by just the right song. A specific smell or the glimpse of a certain image makes it long for the good ol’ days. Words and stories can inspire it. Relationships and experiences offer it joy. It is a place that functions better when full and aches when empty. It has produced great works of art that captivate our gaze. Great symphonies and sonnets both find their origins there. It is the place where we love and feel.
However the heart is also one that offers entry to many things. While the good and beautiful things find their way, so also do the things that bring damage. The heart is a place that can be occupied by pain and fear. The moments of our lives that are marked with tears and grief find their residence. Anger, bitterness and resentment all have crossed the threshold and found entry. There are occupants of our heart that have found such deep places to set up camp that some lose sight that they are there. It is the presence of these things that can produce words and actions that hurt others. Left unchecked, a heart that has been swayed by these things begins to be the source of destruction to the people closest to it.
The heart is well known to be the center of our being. It is the core of who we are. Like a piece of produce, around the core grows the fruit.
We read in Matthew 7:17-18, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.” What we produce is the result of the condition of our heart. This is why we are told in Proverbs 4:23 that above all else, guard our hearts.
When our hearts are right and have allowed the Holy Spirit to occupy the dwelling, Godly things result. The fruit that is desired by many, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control honor God, bless others, and convey His love.
The alternative is a heart that has allowed fear, pride and pain to become it’s voice. There are gentle words that can be found to describe the fruit of this heart, but they simply attempt to soften the sharp edges of reality. The true results are sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these. No, it may not be all of these at once, but any one of these alone are powerful and sinful standing by themselves.
There are moments of my life that have left traces of beautiful fruit. Times where the Holy Spirit has had it’s rightful place in my heart and has produced love and compassion. These times are marked by peace and bring smiles when reflected upon.
However, there are chapters that are different. Times when I have failed to guard my heart. When I have welcomed pain, fear, and pride in and offered space. These are the memories that churn down deep and cause me to shake my head in disbelief. These are the realities that make me wish I cold rewind the story and rewrite the ending. As we all know, that can’t happen.
I have never really grown any fruit or vegetables. The opportunity to visit different gardens over the years has amazed me in light of the fact that if I gathered everything I have grown, I’m not sure I could even make a salad. However, I’ve enjoyed the opportunities in the past to visit farmers markets and produce stands. Each person that I have seen standing behind their crates and tables carry pride and excitement over what they are offering. I have never seen anyone fill their display with rotten, worm ridden fruit. Do they sometimes find that fruit in their gardens? Absolutely. They just know to throw it out and get rid of it. Even if they have a lot of good fruit, the presence of something undesirable causes most to walk away.
We are all in the process of God doing His work in us. Our struggles are as different as our gifts, talents, and hair styles. I don’t know if you have ever found yourself looking back on your actions and words while shaking your head in disbelief. This has been a place I am familiar with.
Perfection is not an expectation, however I believe growth and maturing is something that should be in constant process. I have admittedly tapped into great depths of God’s grace over the years. I would love to say I will never need any again, but I know I will.
For me, my prayer today is this, from Ezekiel 36, asking God to do this in me. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
Through this process, God will renew our hearts and produce His good fruit in us.
Originally posted on revchrisemery.com