Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They responded, “We are Abraham’s children; we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?”
Jesus answered, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave isn’t a permanent member of the household, but a son is. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you really will be free…” – John 8:31-36
This morning, in the Saturday men’s Bible study, we talked about the idea of an undivided heart – a singleness of purpose.
We enjoyed a valuable and productive conversation, including wondering aloud about the moral failings that have been generating so much public commentary this past week. However, rather than talking about the political and entertainment celebrities, our example was a local pastor. And – by implication – ourselves.
“How,” one man said, “can someone who is a leader in faith make the conscious decision – repeatedly – to do things that are not only wrong but illegal?”
So we talked about what it means to pour everything else in our life through the filter of loving God and loving our neighbor, to bring all the multiple interests and purposes of our lives into a kind of single focus, and that focus being, “to love God and to enjoy God forever.”
Not so much that we are only doing one thing, but that One Thing guides and animates our spirit, and how we engage all those various directions.
It’s not an easy concept – we work, we love, we have a family, we are committed to our local church, we are active politically, we go out to dinner with friends, we play golf, we support the community – all these directions we take are diverse and disparate and involve many, many things.
Then, when I returned home, Rebekah and I had our devotional time at breakfast and – for the third time in a week – Oswald Chambers helped my thinking through his 100-year old text. Here it is:
God will not discipline us, we must discipline ourselves. God will not bring every thought and imagination into captivity; we have to do it… Stop listening to the tyranny of your individuality… (My Utmost for His Highest, Nov 18)
I really like this: “Stop listening to the tyranny of your individuality.”
As to the moral failing of the local pastor who got caught taking advantage of women, it’s all about that tyranny, and of putting his own selfish desires ahead of God’s love – God’s love for him, God’s love for the victims, God’s love for his family. There is no One Thing, no undivided heart when we listen to the tyranny of our individuality.
The first moral failing – this is very important to understand, and it’s true for all – is the failure to cultivate an undivided heart.
- Bring Jesus along with you when you make your decision about where to invest your time, your energy, your passion, your creativity.
- Bring Jesus into the conversation when you respond/react to other people.
- Ask Jesus to guide you when you think about what you’re going to do with a few unscheduled minutes, or hours.
- Recognize the presence and the love of Jesus at every crucial juncture.
- Invite Jesus into the smallest details of every day….
Such an undivided heart will not rig cameras to watch young girls undress. Focused hearts include Jesus in conversations about race, or politics, or difficult people. A heart listening to Jesus will not put down their spouse in an argument. An undivided heart will not make excuses instead of supporting the church they attend. The One Thing is Jesus.
When The One Thing is Jesus, everything else is viewed through that prism, poured through that filter, experienced in His Grace.
There is no question about how we relate to others when we are rightly related to Jesus.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.