Christianity 201

January 28, 2020

Character Surgery

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today we return to the writing of Gary Henry at WordPoints. Click the individual titles below to forward these devotions to a friend.

The Great Physician

“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’” (Mark 2:17).

OUR MOST SERIOUS AILMENTS ARE NOT PHYSICAL BUT SPIRITUAL.

We are hurt far more by the malignancies in our character than by the illnesses in our body. And it is the removal of these sins in the heart that God is concerned with. The Great Physician desires to restore our spiritual health and wholeness.

If we want to improve, we must be honest and open to the truth about our character right now. Not even the Great Physician can help us if we’re not willing to be examined. Trying to hide our symptoms and pretending that nothing very serious is wrong will only result in our getting worse. An accurate diagnosis will be humbling, to be sure, but we should still want to know the whole truth. David’s prayer is that of an honest man: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23,24). We must desire to see ourselves as God sees us.

But more than that, we must cultivate confidence that God knows what He’s doing. Whether we understand the wisdom of His plan or not, we must trust both the accuracy of His diagnosis and the effectiveness of His treatment. We must also have the courage to submit to the healing process that He prescribes. The cancer cannot be cut away from our character without radical surgery. Because sin is so entangled in our thinking, the purging operation is always painful and often lengthy. But as with physical disease, if we’re not willing to endure momentary pain in order to become healthy later on, our only option is to get sicker and sicker. We can stay in our sickly “comfort” zone or we can move toward greater health, but not both at the same time. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

How much commitment do we have to the truth about ourselves? For all our talk about loving the truth, do we really desire to see all that God sees when He examines our hearts? There will be no redemption for those unwilling to face reality.

“When we go to our meeting with God, we should go like a patient to his doctor, first to be thoroughly examined and afterwards to be treated for our ailment. Then something will happen when you pray” (O. Hallesby).


Gary often posts more than one article per day. So as we did last time, here’s a bonus item for you.


Child-Like Wonder

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

IT IS EASY FOR A CHILD TO LOVE THE THINGS THAT GOD HAS MADE AND TO BE DRAWN BY THESE THINGS TO LOVE GOD HIMSELF.

Innocent and free, a child responds very naturally to goodness and beauty; he or she takes genuine delight in the multifaceted mysteries of creation. A cloud . . . a tree . . . a squirrel. There is nothing that is not of interest, nothing that does not make the heart throb with wonder and longing for something (or Someone) beyond.

A time comes, however, if the child lives long enough, when these things begin to lose their interest. And the reason? Sin has entered the heart, throwing everything into disarray. There is now delusion and falsehood. Values have been turned upside down. Cynicism has set in. The child, now no longer a child, is busy, not enjoying the creation, but trying to own it and manipulate it to selfish advantage. Now, if he ever notices a cloud, a tree, or a squirrel, he goes to one of two extremes: either he

(1) disregards them completely, or
(2) worships them rather than their Creator.

All of this is profoundly sad. Yet it would be far sadder if it were not for the gospel of Jesus Christ, through which it is possible to be forgiven and to recover the child-like wonder and honest humility with which we used to respond to God’s goodness. The child that we used to be is not gone forever but simply buried under layers of adult pride and busyness. We should be encouraged to know that there are choices we’re capable of making that will open our hearts back up to the powerful pull of truth and joy.

We need to make these choices and go back to our younger hearts. “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said. In the kingdom, there are many new things to be learned. But before we can learn them, there is a good deal of grown-up “stuff” that needs to be unlearned, especially our desire for counterfeit pleasures rather than the real ones that God has provided.

“I was a little stranger who was surrounded by innumerable joys when I arrived here . . . I knew nothing of sickness or death. In the absence of these I was entertained like an angel with the works of God. Heaven and earth sang my Creator’s praise” (Thomas Traherne).


Learn more about Gary’s approach to devotional writing at this link.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: