I found it a wonderful insight into my own heart that there is a battle raging in all our hearts between our own desires (which can be held in clenched fists) and God’s will for us; to be completely humble and to hold all things with open hands, being willing to sacrifice our desires for the greater purpose of living in his kingdom.
Conflict is a natural part of a fallen world.
People and situations make us angry.
People respond differently to different people; someone will be angered by a person’s behaviour whilst another person is not bothered by it.
Our actions reflect our desires.
Our horizontal desires (for people, possessions, recognition, control, acceptance, attention, vengeance etc) compete with our desire to let God rule in our hearts and lives. [p80]
There are two duelling kingdoms in our hearts.
Kingdom of Creation verses the Kingdom of God
When my heart is ruled by a certain desire (eg a quiet night in or a certain form of worship) then then peace only follows through quid pro quo: If you help me fulfil my desire, great. If not, anger ensues.
However, although our desire might be legitimate, the power it has over us is not.
We are all made to serve God in Christ by serving others, not ourselves.
The good news is that God will not give up on us but will fight other gods in our hearts until we come to that place of glad, humble submission with delight in our hearts to God.
Christian ministry, then, is more than teaching a set of principles to live by, morals and patterns of behaviour. It is more than teaching about how to solve life’s problems and having wisdom in various situations. Christian ministry is about the story of the warrior God who fights for us with jealous grace against the gods of the kingdoms of our hearts which reek havoc in our lives, our families and our communities.
How will this impact my ministry?
When counselling or preaching, the battle ground of our hearts needs to be highlighted and people must be encouraged to live for God above all other desires. Tripps’ self-deprecating examples of this battle in his life are a great example to me of how to keep myself as a preacher modelling the way God works in us against the foe of my selfish desires. People need to know how I struggle in this battle and how I need and find God’s help.
For discussion. Like last week, we could minister to one another in this way in our preaching group. What desires do we hold with closed fists with respect to church life at Holy Trinity? How does knowing that God is good and sovereign help us to hold these desires in open hands? What would this do to our lives and our ministry?