It was the first day off that I could call mine in a while. Well, it was a day off from running the business, but I was still on mommy-duty and my youngest Little who I was home with was napping.
I was in the kitchen, looking out into the backyard and taking in the fresh spring air when it hit me. A craving for an apple. There was a pile up of apples in my fruit basket. Gala apples, my favorite.
I grabbed a sharp knife, picked out the best looking one, and sliced it open (actual picture above). To my surprise (and disappointment) it was rotted inside. Some parts worse than others. From the outside, it looked perfect. It was a shiny beautiful red, and very appealing to the eyes. Everything seemed to be intact. However, it wasn’t until the blade of a knife cut the apple open that I was able to see inside. This was no job for a dull knife, the knife had to be sharp. It had to be a tool that could actually penetrate through the layers of that apple. Sure, my teeth would have gotten the job done – yet and still, there had to be a piercing through.
The cutting exposed what was on the inside. It was only at that point that I saw what was truly in front of me – the substance of the apple. It didn’t matter that it looked like a good apple. The rot prevented it from serving its purpose, and it was therefore useless. It didn’t matter that the outer skin was waxed, shiny, and had perfect shape. Beautiful in appearance. Full grown. Mature. It was a bad apple.
What does your apple (heart) reveal? How many of us, if we were to be cut open, would reflect rot? The rot of pain? The rot of rejection? The rot of fear? The rot of pride? The rot of unforgiveness? The rot of backbiting? The rot of dishonesty? The rot of unkindness?
The Bible says that the Word of God is sharper than a 2-edged sword, dividing soul from spirit, bone from marrow – simply put, we serve a deep God that goes deep, looking at the intentions and attitude of the Heart. If He looks deep, then we can rest assured that He also heals deep! The only way that we can genuinely take a look inside of us is through the power and example of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. There is nothing else that would challenge us to look within and see the rot that secretly lies under our surfaces. There is no other lasting way that we can be fixed if we’re not willing to first be cut and examined by His standard.
This can jolt the nerves just thinking about it right? Breathe. There is no condemnation for folks who are in Christ (people who have acknowledged their error, have accepted Christ into their hearts, and have made a commitment to walking with Him and following His example). This isn’t a roast session where your weaknesses are exposed in order to emphasize just how terrible you are. It is a process that travels to the deepest burrows of the heart to tend, mend, and renew. So, what does the cutting process look like?
I have an issue to a degree – and I think we all do – with hearing truth, especially in situations where the rot may seem to be justified. Now, who I’m not referring to here are people who aren’t willing to be checked for behaviors and attitudes that inflict harm on others – they are aware of their rot and may prefer to stay that way. I’m talking to the folks who have developed inner rot that seems justifiable due to the harm they’ve received at the hands of others. Maybe you’ve been betrayed. Maybe you’ve been used and manipulated. Maybe you’ve been abused. Maybe you’ve been forgotten and uncared for. Maybe you’ve been disrespected, lied on or lied to. Maybe you’ve never had anyone in your corner. Maybe you’ve been left for dead. These situations are all painful, all valid, and all contribute to the rot that may now lie dormant inside of the heart.
Yet, and still, it cannot remain. Healing is necessary. This apple wasn’t a bad apple because of what was on the outside. It was a bad apple because of what was on the inside. Now, I’m not calling anyone bad, but attitudes, behaviors, intentions and thoughts can be. It is what is on the inside that defiles. It is what is on the inside that defines. It is what is on the inside that builds up and tears down. It is what is on the inside that tells you who you are.
The word tells us that Jesus makes “all things new”. Imagine a chance to have all that rot removed rather than you just being thrown out completely? It’s very possible. 1 John 1:9 tells us:
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. (Amplified Version)
Confession and repentance are the first steps. It takes big guts and big humility to look at yourself when you’re the one with all the pain. Keeping your “apple” in good condition requires ongoing maintenance. This is a lifelong process and takes constant work. Ephesians 4 gives rich and precise ways to keep your heart clean. I wish I could type out the entire chapter honestly! Take some time to check it out. Here are some instructions drawn directly from the chapter in the meantime:
- Be continually renewed in your mind (having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude).
- Reject all falsehood (whether lying, defrauding, spreading rumors).
- Be angry (at sin – at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior) but don’t sin.
- Don’t give the devil an opportunity to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness.
- Don’t let unwholesome [foul, vulgar, profane, worthless] words ever come out of your mouth, only what is good for building others up.
- Be kind and helpful, tender-hearted, forgiving.
- Put off your old self.
- Let all bitterness, wrath, and anger, malice animosity, strife, fault-finding, and slander be put away from you.
Pretty sure you’ve got some rot hiding beneath that beautiful surface? Take a moment to do some inventory on your regular thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and speech. You may see some revealing patterns and information. Present these to your Heavenly Father, even though He already knows (He wants to know that you know and are willing to confess). This will likely hurt…a lot (that’s part of the “cutting”). When I realized the rejection, fear, offense, anger, depression, and sadness that covered my “apple”, it wasn’t pleasant to see – but it was NECESSARY in order to begin the work of getting rid of it, despite why it was there to begin with. I am still in this process, but I am just melted over the work that God has already begun.
Before ending, it is important to note that this is an ongoing process. Once God begins transforming the heart, you have to guard it. That requires daily maintenance and nurturing. We’ll dig into that process more in coming posts, but you can begin by practicing the habit of saying proclamations aloud to yourself (and your situation). Read a sample proclamation here https://markedlife.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/emotional-healing-proclamation-001/
Check out the rest of my blog for more powerful proclamations on other life topics!
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