As I have thought about the power of the words I speak, I realize that they are so powerful because of the beliefs that they represent. What we believe in our hearts produces words and actions that affect our future. Beliefs are like seeds, our hearts like a fertile garden designed to grow what is planted there. If you aren’t sure what kind of belief-seeds are planted in your heart just take a look at the crop that has grown. What is your crop? You can tell what is really planted by looking at the words you speak.
Mark 4:24-25 says
And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure [of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you – and more [besides] will be given to you who hear. (AMP)
This verse shows us two things about our beliefs. Firstly, beliefs come to us by hearing and thinking. You know how this works; a thought comes to you, you think about it, roll it around in your head, find life experience to prove or disprove it, and pretty soon, a seed of belief has been planted in your heart for better or worse. This verse tells us to therefore be careful about what we hear. Secondly this verse shows us that these beliefs, and the time and energy we give them, will be multiplied back to us. Sounds like ‘seedtime and harvest’ to me; plant one seed, it grows and produces many more!
Mark 4:1-20 (The Parable of the Sower) is a great passage to read about why good seed might not be growing in our hearts. Verses 18-19 say:
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Have you ever seen weed screen? It’s a thick fabric-like substance placed in the ground to keep the weeds out of a garden. Typically little holes are cut out for the real plants to grow through. Wrong beliefs, or lies, can act as weed screen in our hearts, choking the good seed, not allowing it to grow to the surface where it can flourish.
Words and actions, though a good indicator of our real heart condition, are not the problem, but a symptom of a problem. Beliefs are powerful within us. Like seeds they will grow and produce a harvest in our lives. Cutting down the plant does not deal with the issue of the seed buried deep in our hearts. That is the place we must fight for our freedom from wrong beliefs, and pull up the roots that have gone down into us.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
That is pretty simple, right? God has set up things to work in specific ways. If you plant a seed in proper soil, in the proper environment, it will grow. I think this verse could be translated: Stop being so silly –open your eyes! You cannot change the natural laws that God has established. What you plant is what will grow. If you plant selfishly, to please yourself, destruction will grow in your life. If you plant in honor and obedience to God, a life of intimacy with Him will be the resulting harvest.
In Mark 7:1-23 there is an interaction between Jesus, some Pharisees and teachers of the law. The Pharisees had created many customs over the years based on interpretations of the laws given by Moses. These laws were passed on verbally from generation to generation through these teachers and religious leaders. One such regulation that we see in these verses is one concerning ceremonial hand washing. These leaders noticed that the disciples of Jesus did not live according to the tradition of the elders and instead wereeating their food with ‘unclean’ hands (vs. 5) and questioned Jesus about this.
Jesus addresses the customs and traditions that these people were so careful to observe, but points out that in doing so they had really missed the heart and purpose of the law. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down (vs.13), he says. He then addresses the issue of ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ in the rest of these verses (7:20-23).
He went on:
What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”
Again let me say, we cannot simply look at the behaviors and decide if we are ‘clean’ or ‘unclean.’ That may be a good place to start to find out what those behaviors are indicators, or symptoms of. The other side of this is that our behaviors can be the right ones, yet we can still be very far away from God’s heart.
Here are a couple common symptoms, and what I think is the underlying belief behind them.
UNFORGIVENESS: When we hold out and refuse to forgive others a wrong or a hurt caused us the underlying belief is that “they owe me something and need to make this right,” or that “somehow they should make me feel better.” That seed just sets us up as a victim, and though you may be very hurt or violated, that person, though they may repent, may never be able to give you back what was lost, or heal what was hurt. When we choose forgiveness, we release that person from the position we have placed them in that only God can be in.
AUTHORITY-REBELION: Common symptoms are often grumbling against, lack of submission to and resentment of those in authority over us. This could be a boss, pastor, husband, or anyone God has placed in authority in your life. You feel that person has not recognized your true talent and calling or they would have given you more freedom to operate in those areas. The underlying belief here is that this person is somehow bigger than God and is keeping you from what God has called you to do.
I have a list of other attitudes or symptoms and beliefs that I think they stem from, but the common thread is the lie that there is something lacking in God that makes him unable or unwilling to do something in this area of my life, or bring fulfillment to me, so I must seek fulfillment on my own. The lie tells us that this thing could actually fulfill us apart from God.
So how do we move past wrong beliefs? New actions are a good start, but only for forming new habits as our hearts are transformed. Beliefs are changed deep inside of us by knowing the truth, interacting intimately with God and allowing his truth to set you free.
Hearing God’s word awakens and transforms us! Not rituals or traditions.
Because a heart is such fertile soil Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard it!
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Continued in Protect Your Core