Have you ever sat in church and while the preacher shared his message with the congregation you silently thought, “I sure wish my brother was here to hear this…or my parent…..or my spouse….or my child?” Or maybe you gave the slight nudge of the elbow into your spouse’s arm hoping she (or he) got the point the preacher just made. Or maybe you twist your eyes just as far to the side as they can go, trying to discern if the Holy Spirit just might be convicting the person sitting next to you.
It’s easy to see the wrongs in someone else’s life and think of ourselves that we are doing pretty good in this thing called life. Jesus knew this about us. He had a pretty strong title for such people. In Matthew 7:5 Jesus says, “Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Revival begins with an inward accounting of our own heart and life. We need to stop looking at the sins of everyone else and examine ourselves. The simple truth is that we are all sinners and we will never be sinless until we reach eternity. Certainly, when we have family, friends, or others involved in something that is against God’s standards we should pray for them. However, we are never in a position to judge them. That’s God’s job. Trust me; I know I have enough things in my own life to keep me on my knees before God seeking His forgiveness. As parents, we can certainly pray for the wayward child that walks away from their Christian upbringing. As a spouse, we can pray for God to draw our husband or wife closer to God. We can pray for our co-workers who might be unsaved. However, if we follow Matthew 7:5, we must first start with our own life.
The Psalmist wrote a brave prayer in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” (HCSB) Are you brave enough to ask the Omnipotent, All-knowing God to search your heart? Would you be able to ask Him to do and really mean it, ready to change whatever He might reveal? Whether we ask Him to not, because He is All-knowing, he already knows our hearts. He knows the secret sins we hold on to and hope no one ever finds out about. He knows our motivation for why we sing in church or teach a small group, or serve on that church committee. He knows how we act at church on Sunday and how we act at work on Monday. He knows where we choose to spend our money. He knows our attitudes, our choice of words, our emotions, and our passions. He knows how we act and what we say in rush hour traffic on the expressway each morning and afternoon. What would God find in your heart if you earnestly asked Him to search it? I’m sure He would find some good stuff in there, but besides that….what would He find?
The Psalmist goes on to ask God to test him and know his concerns. What concerns you most? Living a Godly life? Obeying God in the hard things he asks you to do? Loving others as Christ loves them…regardless of who they are? Or would God test you and find what concerns you most is living for yourself with no regard for anyone else…always wanting things your way? Would your job or hobbies be a higher concern to you than your relationship with Him? Would you take up every cause that brings division and strife or would you fall on your knees in prayer entreating God for peace and unity? Maybe what He would find is a lack of care and empathy as long as the problems of the world do not directly affect you. Would you be brave enough to genuinely ask God to test you and know your concerns? Are you willing to make a change in what concerns you if He asks? What is it that you think the Holy Spirit wants you to be concerned about?
The next thing the Psalmist asks is for God to reveal anything that is offensive to Him. He wanted God to open every closet door and pull out every dark skeleton and reveal it. We can’t ask God to do this and then when he reveals that one sin that we’ve held on to pull it away from God and tuck it back in the dark closet and say, “Oh, but not that one God. I think I’ll keep that one a little bit longer.” The purpose of asking God to reveal any offense is so that we have the opportunity to ask His forgiveness, repent from it, and renew a right relationship with God. For most of us (I know for me!) we need to do this all day long….every day. If the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart right now, what offensive thing is He asking you to surrender and repent?
As Christians, we all talk about revival and we all hope that “one day” God will sweep a holy revival across our nation. That day can be today and it can start with me…with you. In the 19thcentury, a revival evangelist named Gypsy Smith, would stop in every town he preached at and draw a circle in the dirt, placing himself inside the circle. He would then pray and ask God to send a revival to the town and to let it begin inside the circle. Would you, dear reader, be willing to draw a circle and place yourself inside it then be brave enough to pray with sincere honesty for God to send a revival inside your circle as you ask Him to search you and know your heart; to test you and know your concerns; to reveal any offensiveness within you? This, my friend, is where a revival begins.