Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Avoid a Josh Duggar Heart

Like my fellow believers, I've been sickened by the news of Josh Duggar's cheating ways, as well as by the commenters claiming that Christians are like everyone else, or even sicker. "If there was a God, they assert, he would change hearts. What evidence is there that Christians have better hearts? None."

Oh, my. This is certainly a compelling argument against religion, with pastors and parishioners falling left and right. We're even sicker, people assume, because we hide our sins deeper down, hoping to stay in the good graces of our fellow Bible-thumpers...or something like that.

My first thoughts were: How does a true Christian participate in ongoing sin--having these awful Ashley Madison accounts, for example, for two years? How do you eat at the family table, take care of your children, go about your family life, while living a lie? How are you not utterly miserable while doing this? How do you not worry about your wife's sexual health, which you are putting into jeopardy with your insane selfish acts--as well as the health of any unborn babies? How do you not worry about your children, who will be ashamed of their last name and their Daddy? How do you live with yourself everyday? How do you not break down and confess early on?

I still don't know the answer, and of course it's not my place to judge another's salvation. My purpose today is in offering wisdom as to how the rest of us can avoid ongoing sin.

I can witness to you about what happens within me when I pray before my family, confessing my sins. My friends, it is humbling, cleansing. It's as though you're using a toothbrush to get at the deepest grime between the tiles. Don't get too busy to pray humbly before your family, who love you and can help heal you.

It's possible to participate in corporate or private prayer without the confessing part, but this is not God's design. It's so easy to avoid examining our own hearts--especially when we're busy analyzing others' heart--but our heart's purity demands this examining step, daily.

If you said something unkind to your husband, for example, it will come up as you examine your heart during prayer time. The Holy Spirit will make sure it comes up. And your heart, as you confess and ask for forgiveness, will be softened against your husband, helping you avoid another unkind remark or heart stance.

If we don't keep up with a daily cleansing of the heart, we begin to feel like we have a right to our sinful feelings, attitudes, or behaviors. Our hearts harden and life becomes about us, not about loving God and our fellow man.

The Holy Spirit keeps us pure, but it's our job to turn to Him, boldly looking him squarely in the eyes, asking: search my heart and cleanse me.

I will go through The Lord's Prayer below, explaining how we are to model our prayers, but first, let us read about David's contrite heart after sinning against God.

I've always thought this a beautiful prayer, and I see it as God making beauty from ashes out of David's sin--in producing a heart model for us to follow after we have sinned. This Psalm is David's prayer after committing adultery with Bathsheba.

Psalm 51: A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17My sacrifice, O God, isb a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Commonly known as the Lord's Prayer, but better termed The Disciple's Prayer, this is the model Jesus gave for how to pray. 

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

It starts, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. When we go before our heavenly Father in prayer, we should begin with praising His holy name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Next, we should pray that the Lord will come back soon, and that more people will come to Christ beforehand, including our family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances. God puts people in our path to pray for and influence, and we should remember them all at this time. The Lord desires that none shall perish.

Next, we should pray that we, and others, will live according to God's will, not our own--that God will work this into our hearts. 

Give us today our daily bread. We have nothing and deserve nothing outside of God's grace and will, and everything on the earth is the Lord's. We humbly acknowledge that we are utterly dependent on God; we ask him to provide everything we need to live on a daily basis: physical nourishment, shelter, clothing, spiritual strength, grace. We also pray for other's daily needs and petitions here.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. We pause a moment in prayer and let the Holy Spirit reveal our sins to us, so that we can name them and ask for forgiveness. We then ask that our hearts will be softened toward those who have offended us, so we can thoroughly forgive them.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. These two clauses belong together, and according to John Calvin's commentary, their meaning is thus:

“We are conscious Of our own weakness, and desire to enjoy the protection of God, that we may remain impregnable against all the assaults of Satan.” We showed from the former petition, that no man can be reckoned a Christian, who does not acknowledge himself to be a sinner; and in the same manner, we conclude from this petition, that we have no strength for living a holy life, except so far as we obtain it from God. Whoever implores the assistance of God to overcome temptations, acknowledges that, unless God deliver him, he will be constantly falling.

The Lord will make beauty from ashes out of Josh Duggar's sins, just like he did with King David's, though we may never see it. Josh's fall is a reminder to us all that, outside of prayer with confession, we will go likewise.

Daily life is so very busy, especially with young children around, but prayer need not take a long time, as we see from this model. There will be seasons of life when it can be luxuriously long, when children are gone and the house is still and quiet, perhaps. But in the meantime, we open ourselves up to sin and pain and shame, if we ever claim we are too busy to pray. Even five minutes with a spouse is significant and holy.

How does your family do prayer?


Tesha Papik said...

Excellent post!!! I agree that in prayer God reveals the sin in our hearts. I can not tell you how many times I have entered into prayer with a hard heart and had God bring correction. I am heart broken for Anna and pray she is getting lots of love and support.

Christine said...

Yes, Tesha. I hope the same and feel awful for her and for his parents and siblings. It made it all the worse that he knew his name would be spread all over the press and that, along with himself, his wife and family would forever carry some stigma, if he was ever caught. How blind and selfish!

Still, it could turn out well if he becomes truly repentant, but probably not without the same sort of consequences King David still had to face (trouble with his children, for one).