Vacations are wonderful things—times to relax, unwind, regain perspective—so we return with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit to tackle the challenges of life.
My husband and I returned yesterday afternoon from a week’s vacation in Maine and when I walked in our front door a whiff of house-e-tosis curled my nose hair.
Our fresh vacationed eyes rested upon a heap of garbage and gunk we had grown accustomed to in the middle of the kitchen floor. The place was nasty and I determined to clean up and toss out offensive odors and clutter we had allowed to swarmed our home and cloud our vision for goodness knows how long.
This morning I charged out of bed intent on shifting into hyper-cleaning mentality. However, my Precept homework was a week behind, so I grabbed a cup of coffee, my Bible, and study notebook and headed for my chair.
I turned back to the previous lesson for a quick catch-me-upper. And found Paul’s prayer for those Ephesian believers so on point with my state of mind today I had to ponder, pray, and then write this post.
In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul asked God for five things for you—for me—for all believers for all time:
• That God would grant I be strengthened with power through His Spirit in my inner man.
• That Christ may dwell in my heart through faith.
• That I be rooted and grounded in love.
• That I may be able to comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s love.
• That I may be filled up to all fullness of God.
Then Kay Arthur asked us to go to our Strong’s Concordance and look up the meaning of the word “dwell”. “That Christ may dwell in my heart through faith.” The Greek word is “katoikeo” and means “to house permanently, i.e. reside. Or “to settle down in a dwelling, to dwell fixedly in a place.”
Just like I’d grown accustomed to the odor of my house and had overlooked cobwebs in the corners, dust on the baseboards, and sticky stuff on the floors—fresh eyes showed me red zones of squalor. Squalor that needed my attention. Attention that required action to make my house clean. Presentable.
And as God always does, He shined the light of this knowledge deep in my soul where the real house cleaning needed to occur. Several phrases leaped off the page and jabbed my heart.
That I be rooted and grounded in love. That’s right rooted and grounded in love—not rooted and grounded in faith. Ouch! That changes the whole picture doesn’t it? The first part of that verse sets the perimeters: “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you being rooted and grounded in love…”
the country is far removed from the Texas way of life. Vast numbers of folks reside in a much smaller space. Dusty, dirty, loud commuter trains take folks everywhere. You see life up close and personal…and personal is always yucky when you look through critical eyes. Having just come from a city concerned about the spread of Ebola, I saw squalor, pictured lurking germs, and looked down my nose at their dirt and noise—ignoring the beam in my own eye.
This morning I wonder what Christ sees when He looks at me? A heart “rooted and grounded in love”? That would be another “ouch”.
What does He see in your heart?
But wait, it gets better (or should I say intimately more uncomfortable). From verses 14 through 19, each verse is conditional upon the former. If Christ doesn’t dwell—hasn’t come in, settled down, and resided in our heart—we can’t be rooted and grounded in love—love comes from our Lord. Nor can we, regardless of our education or church standing “comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth, or know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
So folks, before I begin my Fall housecleaning this morning I am compelled to “bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,” and confess the squalor in my own heart—my lovelessness—my critical spirit—my judgmental nature.
Christ tells us in that day He will tell many who depended on their good works—those who looked down their nose at would be brothers and sisters in Christ for whatever the reason, but cared for themselves, grumbled, found fault, caused divisions, worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit; those with faces painted pious, who never participated in anything beyond an hour on Sunday morning; those who lacked roots of love—these He told, “…depart from Me. I never knew you.” Or in essence…I never moved in, settled down and dwelt in your heart. I don’t know you.
‘Cause when the Holy Spirit lives in your heart, His love shows up in every area of your life. You can’t remain the same because you’ve become a citizen of the Kingdom of Light. You’ve had a heart transplant.
But are the arteries of your heart clogged with pride? Are your veins so corroded with the appetites and longings of the flesh there’s no room for the wind and fire of His Spirit to light your soul like He did with Moses on that mountain top so long ago? Or Abraham, or with David, a man whose heart beat with God’s allowing his soul be illuminated with lyrics and songs of praise to his Lord?
Don’t know about you, but today I’m cleaning Jesus dwelling place and asking “…according to the riches of His glory,” that I “…be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…”
With fresh eyes I’ll guard my heart for trespasses, offensive odors, a haughty disposition, and a critical spirit which tend to seep in and create squalor. Needing, desiring, pleading instead to be filled with the fullness of God each and every day ‘til Jesus comes.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal…Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13: 1-8(a) NKJ).