In my job, I talk to people every week about different struggles and problems they are experiencing. We all have issues or difficult circumstances in our lives. No one is exempt from suffering and pain. So as I was thinking about some of my own issues and circumstances I have been asking myself this question: “Why do we do the things we do?”
I believe the answer to that question is, we do what is in our hearts. The principle of inescapable influence says “Whatever rules the heart will exercise inescapable influence over the person’s life and behavior.” I learned about this principle in a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” by Paul David Tripp.
Tripp says “that if we fail to examine the heart and the areas where it needs to change, our ministry efforts will only result in people who are more committed and successful idolaters”. Anything that replaces or comes before God in our lives is an idol.
So, our daily behavior is our attempt to get what is most important to us in certain situations and relationships. What we do always reveals the true desires in our hearts. The book of James says “But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death.” (James 1:14,15).
So this all comes down to an issue of worship. What we worship determines how we respond to our circumstances. If we are loving, worshipping and serving the wrong thing, we will do things that line up with what we are worshipping.
Here are 5 things that Tripp gives us for application in our personal growth:
1. Our hearts are always being ruled by someone or something.
2. The most important question to ask when examining the heart is, “What is functionally ruling my heart in this situation?”
3. Whatever controls my heart will control my responses to people and situations.
4. God changes us not just by teaching us to do different things, but by recapturing our hearts to serve Him alone.
5. The deepest issues of the human struggle are not issues of pain and suffering, but the issue of worship, because what rules our hearts will control the way we respond to both suffering and blessing.
Every one of our hearts has a fount of competing desires. There is a battle going on in each of us for our hearts. God wants all of our heart, not just part of it. Our hearts direct our behavior, so if our hearts have dark corners or empty spaces we will continue to do things we don’t want to do. We will say things we don’t want to say. Things like anger, bitterness, lust, unforgiveness, jealousy and guilt will leak out of our hearts and into our behavior or words.
Our problems in our relationships and the wacky things we do are rooted in problems of worship. That is why we must start with God. I encourage you to go and read Galatians 5:13-26 for some powerful truth. This passage of Scripture is about what we do next. Will we live in self-imposed bondage to our emotions? Will we submit to our own sinful desires? Or will we grab a hold of the truth and transform our hearts?
It all starts on the inside, when that changes, the outside begins to change as well.