Tripp’s discussion of the organic link between our hearts and behaviour is really helpful; what we say and do reveals what’s going on in our hearts. Different people react differently to the same situation because of who they/we are on the inside. It is not our situations or behaviour which needs alteration. We must be renewed, transformed and changed on the inside before we respond appropriately in various situations.
We try to change things by focusing on behaviour: threaten, manipulate, instil guilt, raise our voices, etc but this does not change the heart. [p62]
1. There is a root and fruit connection between heart and behaviour. People and situations do not determine our behaviour; these things provide an occasion where our behaviour reveals our hearts.
2. Any agenda for change must focus on thoughts and desires of the heart.
3. The heart is, therefore, the target in personal growth and ministry.
The main problem is the idolatry in our hearts. We are made to worship God alone but we worship other things instead and God treats us accordingly until our hearts turn back to him.
Idolatry is spiritual adultery, because the love we have in us, our heart, which should be directed to God as our creator and redeemer is given to something else in creation, even our own image, wellbeing, etc.
Application to ministry, preaching and counselling
The heart is the target of preaching. My own heart must first be revealed for what it I. I must know what I worship or love apart from God and then be changed by what I preach before it has any hope of changing the hearts of others.
When listening to people in counselling I am not listening for behaviour and seeking to suggest different behaviour (when you stay in you get sad and depressed so you must try to get out, when you get angry with your neighbour you must try to stay calm) but rather listening to behaviour so as to understand the heart (you are sad because you worry which means you’ve stopped trusting that God will watch over you, he’s your rock, etc; you get angry because you have been sinned against and take things into your own hands, which means you’ve stopped trusting that God will judge justly etc)
What do discuss
How about we talk about knowing our own hearts? What are we like at our core as Christians, preachers, ministers? Do we know ourselves well? What makes us tick? Is it the love of God and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ which moves us or something else which leads to us behaving in certain ways? How do others see our hearts as revealed by our behaviour, how do we see each other? Do we have enough confidence in the love of God to be open to hearing from each other? Tripp is confident that once we know ourselves, accept ourselves in Christ and overcome our idols, then we’ll be open to change and this will have a powerful impact on our ministry and the life of the church.