Where It Starts

February 12, 2024

For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you. Mark 7:21-23 NLT

My mother always regretted that she did not learn to play the piano. When she married a young pastor, she thought she would have been a greater asset to him if she could be his unpaid pianist whenever they needed music. Since she felt her opportunity was over for gaining that skill, she was determined her children would learn. When my sister and I were old enough to learn to play, she enrolled us as students with a sweet senior lady who had taught dozens on her beautiful, old upright. We got a used massive piano too, and the mission began.

My sister was a prize student. She loved making music, practicing her daily thirty minutes (and often more) without any problems. Not me. I didn’t see any reason to practice. I would make noise on the piano, but not practice. When my mom was doing laundry in the basement, I would often just leave and run around or ride my bike. In her frustration, Mother decided to sit with me every day during my practice time. That frustrated me. One of the first days she pulled up beside me and told me to begin playing my song for the week, I opened my John W. Schaum piano book for beginners, put my hands on the keys, and then slowly turned and looked at my mom. “You know, Mommy, you can make me sit here and you can make me make noise on the piano. But you can’t make me play the right notes unless I decide to.”

Yikes. Right? I know. Mom immediately asked me who taught me that. No one taught me that. It came from my sinful little heart. We easily have two misconceptions about desires and attitudes. First, we think if we can just get the behavior right, we’re good. Everyone will think we’re godly and right. We can enforce rules and make other people “play the right notes” according to us, but that doesn’t mean their hearts are right with God. Behavior doesn’t accurately tell the story.

A second misconception is that our outside influences determine our decisions. There is no question – we are wise to audit and monitor our associations. But when it comes right down to it, we choose the influences we allow to impact us regularly. Then we make our own decisions based on what is in our hearts. None of us can blame others for our life choices, or our children’s choices. Neither can we assume that how things appear are the way things really are. That’s why Jesus said to start with the heart. That’s where everything good and pure as well as everything wrong and destructive starts. Jesus knows your heart completely and loves you completely. He will work with you to help your heart and your behavior match, and love you on the journey.

  • Thank You, Jesus. You don’t have to “fix” me to love me, but You work with me to help my heart and my behavior to match.