The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 ESV
Maybe you’ve witnessed a tragedy like the following. A pastor, husband, and father of three flips out, packs his bags, and leaves the ministry and his family. His actions seem to come out of nowhere. Behaviors can be hard to explain even by those who are most intimate with the one who has done the unthinkable.
For the past week, my devotionals have centered on the tragic story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. When Cain murdered his brother, did his parents see it coming? Maybe not. This horrendous event wasn’t aa spontaneous act. Though it might have seemed like it to Abel, Cain may not have been surprised that he took his brother’s life.
Evil deeds originate from the heart. Inside each of us is a world of simmering thoughts. We each have our individual, default thought processes, the things we choose to think about most often. Cain’s murder of his brother began long before the day he struck him down. Jealousy, rage, disgust, these were the longtime breeding grounds for murder. Agitation in his soul fed Cain’s thought life. Perhaps daydreaming of a life without his brother was his favorite pastime.
In today’s scripture, God saw people’s demonic behaviors and declared them evil. His condemnation was of things outward. He also commented on the hearts of the people and declared them evil too. That condemnation was of things inward. My actions today are the summation of my thoughts. Jesus said so. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. Matt. 15:18 If I heed the Apostle Paul’s advice to take every thought captive, and if I follow David’s example and ask God to search my heart, I won’t be a casualty. I won’t do something catastrophic and then wonder how in the world I could do such a thing.
In our prayer times, we often pray for someone’s behavior to change. That doesn’t target the root of the problem. It doesn’t address the place where sin is born. I need to pray for that person’s internal world that simmers with evil thoughts. Man sees the outward manifestations of the heart, but God sees the heart and hears the ruminations that precede sinful behavior. It’s the heart that needs His transformation. Behavior will follow.
If I don’t like what I do, if I’m discouraged about all my bad habits and longtime strongholds, take me to their source. Show me my heart, Lord Jesus. Amen