The Heart of a Sinner

In high school I had a friend with very low self-esteem. She always pointed out her accomplishments and waited to be complimented—your standard fisherman of compliments. Even as a teenager, I knew low self-esteem was her problem. I saw that she was broken, but still, I chose not to love her. When she would start drawing attention to her greatness, I would do just about everything but compliment her. I have never been able to embrace a boastful person. I would avoid eye contact with her, change the subject, pretend I didn’t hear—all because I did not think a person as arrogant as her deserved to be praised. The irony here, however, is that this friend of mine was not arrogant. She was anything but arrogant.

fishing-164977_1280Over ten years later, I am an adult—a wife, a mom, and a daughter of the King. However, boastfulness and arrogance still crawl under my skin more skillfully than any other sin. I can’t stand a boastful person. Being in the presence of one causes me to start locating the exits. I want nothing to do with arrogance.

Boastfulness is certainly a sin. God says in Matthew 6:1-2, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Then in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Seeking validation from anyone but God means we care more for this world than for Him. However, our human nature causes us to crave praise from just about everyone. Some of us seek it more fervently than others, but we are all boastful—small, insecure beings who want someone to notice how fantastic we are. Even though God commands us to not be part of this world, the world’s praises is the very thing many of us desire the most.

Recently in a conversation with an overtly boastful person, God began to heal my own brokenness. As I visited with this person, trying so hard to love her and acknowledge her accomplishments (hating every minute of it), I began to realize that despite the sins and worldly desires of this woman, I, too, was in need of God’s grace. I sat there in judgment of this woman because of her sin, never considering that my inability to embrace her was my sin, equal to her boastfulness. As I judged and ridiculed the heart of a boaster, God revealed the sins of my own heart. Let me worry about her heart, Tara, you must take care of your own.sunrise-1756274_1920

By God’s grace, my next encounter with a self-conscious person who seeks my approval and praise, will be one where I exhibit the love of Christ. Because this person’s sins are not greater than my own, I will not condemn them nor despise them, but love them.

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” ~Luke 11:28

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The World is Cold

I cannot grasp the chaos that struck a Texas church earlier this week. The news tightened around my throat like a vice as I stared at the headline. The words, “God, not again,” slipped out. While I sat in a sanctuary with my family worshiping my Father, exhausted and frustrated because of my post-daylight-savings-time toddler, another group of believers was facing its worst nightmare. Evil walked into the body of Christ’s most sacred place and got a three-pointer in the game between good and evil.tree-2898647_1920

Every American, Christian or not, asks why. Perhaps, God allowed this evil to happen because this country is experiencing His punishment and wrath for how we’ve ignored Him. But when I think of the innocent believers who were left helpless inside that church, it occurs to me that perhaps committed followers of Christ were simply caught in the crossfire of lies and hatred.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture we are forced to raise our children in a world where active shooters are ever-present. I mentioned to my husband that perhaps he should start carrying in church. Bringing a gun to church? Surely this is not the world my children live in. Surely there’s been some mistake. Surely God will not allow this.

In a world where chaos reigns and God is rejected, only one thing is sure. Surely the Lord will prevail. Amen! For this recurrent chaos may temporarily destroy our sense of security, but it cannot destroy our eternal rest. We cannot help but rejoice that those precious lives taken too soon and so violently are residing with the Savior of the world right now. They have no memory of their deaths or the hatred that took them, for all they can see is Jesus Christ. What a glorious sight that must be!

candles-2628473_1920Amid persistent violence, helpless, lost, fearful people are turning to God with repentant hearts. Even while Christians are being massacred, He can and will further His kingdom. Even the fiercest unbeliever cannot help but seek out comfort and will eventually recognize that God is the only one who can remove this fear. For those who seek Him, find Him. So, as Christians are dying on the floor of the world God created, this fear plays a role in the birth of a new Christian. This is certainly something to celebrate!