We took visitors to a famous barbecue restaurant, the kind that has walls adorned with scores of pictures of presidents and other luminaries who have visited over the years.
The food was excellent but the floor was as slick as a skating rink. It needed a stiff brush, strong soap, and some elbow grease. Without a thorough cleaning we could get no traction. Meat and sauce drippings that were created to please the taste buds and coat the stomach had found their way to coat the floor. It did not make a healthy, or even safe, dining experience.
King Solomon warned, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Through the heart, the core of our being, God’s truth transforms our lives. Our problem is that our heart, like the restaurant floor, gets contaminated through the world and our fallen flesh. Jeremiah describes our challenge. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Men and women of authority, education, and influence are particularly susceptible. Their gifting, potentially so helpful in service and leadership, spills over to coat the heart with ill-placed personal pride and assurance. God’s teaching and correction through Scripture, prayer, experiences, and other people gains little traction.
The result–we are impoverished and others are hurt. David, a man after God’s own heart, knew the challenge. His failures were manifest but when awakened he welcomed a stiff and strong soap to afford traction and penetration of God’s truth. It would be wise for all of us in authority to emulate his humble and self-aware approach.
“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).