Friday, September 9, 2016

Matters of the Heart .......... Parables 482

August 29, 1995

Every few days authorities arrest someone for physically or sexually abusing their own or someone else’s children. Susan Smith went even farther when she killed her two little boys. She claims emotional distress yet who can help but question the actual condition of her heart?

Statistics reveal alarming increases in child abuse. While raising children can bring exasperation, understanding a total lack of tender-heartedness is difficult. Any kind of abuse sadly illustrates the depths to which human beings can fall.

What can be done to prevent or stop such abuse? Education may help. Punishment, or the threat of it, might deter a few. It is more imperative that something is done at the heart level to defuse whatever it is at the core of our being that makes too many of us tick like time bombs.

Human nature is complex. For instance, why do some people beat their kids yet that behavior appalls others? In God’s sight, what is the difference? Why does He say ALL need forgiveness and salvation from sin when some are obviously more in need of it than others?

A diagram helped me understand something about the condition of humanity as God sees us. Draw the left half of a heart. Since the heart represents a person, label it “ME.” Finish the right side with a vertical line. This line shows something is missing, which I will explain shortly. At the top of the line, put a “zero.” This represents goodness or zero evil — no badness at all.

Above the half heart shape, draw a horizontal line extending left from the zero to the edge of the page. This line represents human potential for doing wrong. We must admit evil’s appeal.

Human attitudes, motives, speech and general behavior will be somewhere along this line. People who maybe tell only a few white lies, seldom say mean things and are generally kind and law-abiding, could be called “good” and will be close to the zero.

Others express their tendency toward evil in more serious activities such as robbing banks, mugging people or cheating on their income tax. Their mark would be farther away from the “zero.” Depending on individual opinion, Hitler and Paul Bernardo would be farther left than these or than average people. Some might mark them right off the page.

On your diagram, draw the other half of the heart with a dotted line. Draw another line above the heart going to the right of the “zero.” This represents human potential to be godly or like God, an actual possibility because He made us in His image.

However, the Bible says we fall short of getting any marks on the godliness side — because of the stuff on the other line. Any bad deed spoils the image we were created to reflect. Looking at the diagram, it is easy to see we are incomplete. Without God’s help, the best we can do is reach half our potential and, as far as God measures, it is the wrong half.

God loves us too much to leave us like that. He offered a way we can move beyond the middle line when He sent His Son to pay our penalty for everything marked on the left side. Even more, He put all of that bad stuff on Christ, removing it from us “as far as the east is from the west.” Those who believe in Him are assured that God “remembers their sin no more.”

Secondly, God takes the righteousness of Christ and puts it on those who believe. What an incredible trade! “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Even more amazing, God gives His eternal life and power to those who trust Christ. Because of His presence in them, they have a new nature and the potential to extend that line out to the right toward godliness. While evil is still possible (God never removes our power of choice), its power to condemn us before God is broken — and He makes our hearts whole.

As for child abuse, according to the Bible, response to Christ means “the hearts of the fathers will be turned toward their children.” He becomes a potent cure, right where it is needed.

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