Pulling weeds out of the garden of our hearts is about the willingness to admit when we don’t have it right, to ask forgiveness of God and people when needed, receive God’s forgiveness, and then change. We do actually need to change to get the weeds out. It has to go beyond words to attitudes, then to actions. Consider this verse of Scripture about how we can discern the contents of our hearts.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than anytwo-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NASB
The Word of God, written, and spoken by the Holy Spirit, goes right down into your bones and shines the light on what’s down there. I wonder if one side of the double edge represents thoughts, while the other side stands for intentions. At any rate, it can cut through from any direction it’s being wielded, and ‘cut to the quick’ right down to where truth can be seen. We need this sword to help us because we can’t see clearly without it.
I had a dream one day about 14 years ago that gives insight into the kind of discernment we need, particularly with regard to our religious tendencies .
When we bought our current home, there was a tall plant with three tiers of leaves just to the left of the front step. I saw it every time I went through the front door and wondered, “Is that a garden plant or a weed?” One day, I came in the front door and just lay down on the couch for a quick afternoon nap. In the dream, I saw that plant and heard the Lord’s voice say, “It’s a weed. But it grows plentifully in my house because my people can’t tell that it’s a weed.” He referred to the three tiers of leaves and what they represented. He said, “The first tier represents ‘the pride of principled living,’ the second, ‘fear masquerading as wisdom’ and the third, ‘selfish selfishness.’” Whoa. I felt the weight of that! I knew that this was the Word of God Himself speaking into the thoughts and intents of my own heart.
“The pride of principled living” is what many of us do to get a sort of “code” working for us, so we don’t have to humbly depend on God. Principles aren’t bad. They are essentially good most of the time, but when they become a “code” we live by and take credit for, we can become quite proud of how good we are because we keep our code. It’s a performance orientation that can sneak in and look good but not produce the kind of dependence on God that this Christian life is all about.
“Fear masquerading as wisdom” is pretty easy to see once you say it. Always erring on the side of caution may not be wisdom—it may be wise in many situations to take risks. It’s again all about living in close relationship with God and not playing it safe, thinking that’s always wisdom. The only safe place to be is in the middle of the will of God—and we need to know His heart and mind at any given moment about any given situation to know what wisdom looks like.
“Selfish selflessness” is a bit harder to understand. It took me a couple of months of interacting with the Lord about it to know what He meant by it. One manifestation that’s more easily discerned is about doing things that “look selfless” but not having a heart of true selflessness behind it. It’s something you have to ask yourself and discern for yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit. The other part of this is the tendency in religious flesh to denigrate the self—in other words, to constantly shame yourself and try to make yourself disappear because of the belief that the self is totally evil. The sinful nature is evil, but our true self was created in the image of God. It is really important not to “crucify” that self. Your original design is from God. It should be drawn out and reborn, bringing glory to God. You can do this by being your true self with Jesus in you.
These are my musings about purity of heart and how we can discern it. If that is something the Holy Spirit is impressing upon you now, open your heart and pray with me now:
Lord, today I want to make a promise to myself and You, to let others’ hearts be solely your responsibility, and to be fully responsible for my own. I invite you, Holy Spirit, with your laser beam accurate discernment to search me and let anything you want to be seen come to light. I want to weed the garden of my heart. With Your help, I can have clean hands and a pure heart. To see you and know you is the greatest desire of my heart!
This post is a quote taken from my book, The Divine Invitation: Entering the Dance of Becoming Fully Alive in the chapter about Purity of Heart. If you haven’t read it, maybe consider taking it with you to read on your summer travels. There’s much more like this content in this book! I wrote it for women who long to be more like Jesus and enter into ever deepening relationship with Him. Even better, do it with a group of your friends!
Have a wonderful week!