As humans, we tend to believe that we are stronger than we really are. We tend to lean on our own understanding and depend on our own strength. We are usually slow to acknowledge God, so it’s not surprising when we get confused and question those things we don’t understand. The heart of the matter is that we resist trusting in God’s strength, and instead, we trust in ourselves.
Pimp My Ride
There used to be a TV show on MTV called “Pimp My Ride.” MTV would send a rapper named Xzibit to people with messed up cars. Xzibit would show up and say to suddenly excited owners of run down jalopies, “I’m X to the Z, and I’m here to pimp your ride!”
These cars had problems, and MTV would pay to have the car made over. Spots of rust would be made to look nice, the car would get a fresh paint job, expensive hubcaps placed on the tires, and the seats covered in plush leather. The car now looked awesome.
The question I always wondered was: What about the engine? Sure, the car looks great, but does it run? Is the owner going to be the proud owner of a now excellent looking car that’s up on blocks in his driveway?
Having a car that looks cool is nice, but you can’t ignore what’s under the hood.
You and I are messed up. We have problems. What accentuates our problems is that they’re never solved by how we try to explain them. In fact, our solution can intensify our problems.
The problem with our solution is that the answer we turn to is ourselves. In fact, that solution is so common we’ve coined an easy way of describing it: self-help. Self-help is super popular. The issue with self-help is that it’s skin-deep. When we try to fix ourselves all we’re doing is behavior modification.
Kyle Idleman says it’s like a doctor telling a guy with lung cancer to take cough medicine. Yeah, it may get rid of any external signs that there’s a problem, but it does nothing to address the issue.
We’d be mortified if a doctor took that approach, yet it’s the approach we take to address our problems all the time. If you:
- Have a gambling problem, stay away from the casinos.
- Find you struggle with anger, take a deep breath and count to ten.
- Know your marriage is in trouble, schedule a date night.
- Are workaholic, leave the office at 5 and don’t bring work home.
- Find yourself in debt, cut up your credit cards.
- Struggle with a weight problem, modify your diet and eating habits.
Those might not be bad ideas, but all we’re doing is pimping our rides. We’re giving ourselves a makeover, but ignoring what’s under the hood. Those solutions don’t get to the heart of the issue. The heart of the matter is the heart.
Jesus said, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander,” (Matthew 15:19). Our approach is behavior modification, but Jesus’ knew the problem, and the solution, is always about the heart.
Those solutions don’t get to the heart of the issue. The heart of the matter is the heart.
During Jesus’ time the religious leaders, the Pharisees, were all about being, or at least appearing, right. They were all about people’s behavior. Jesus wasn’t exactly impressed. He told them:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First, wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 15:25-28).
The religious people back then were about looking right, about externals. They ignored what’s inside. They looked righteous, but their hearts were anything but pure.
Sometimes I fear that religious people today have the same struggle. I wonder if Christians today can be way more like the Pharisees than we’d ever care to admit. It seems there’s an inherent temptation in religion to make it about being right. Christians want, intellectually, to be correct. They want their behavior to be proper. At the least, they want to give the appearance that they’re living right.
Admitting We Are Wrong
Christianity is not about being right; it’s about admitting you’re wrong. It’s about being so sure you’re wrong in your thinking and your behavior, that you lose all hope that you can be right and so you become desperate for a Savior.
It’s a critical moment when you have that realization because that’s when we stop:
- Turning to yourself and start turning to God.
- Relying on self-help and start crying out for God-help.
- Trying to impress others and start imploring God.
- Behavior modification and start heart restoration.
God is a God of Restoration.
MTV sent Xzibit to people with messed up cars. God sent Jesus to people with messed up lives. Xzibit was the X to the Z. Jesus is the alpha and the omega. Xzibit came to pimp your ride. Jesus came to restore your heart.
I don’t know about you, but I’d choose to drive a broke down car with a heart Jesus has pimped out, over driving a pimped out car with a broke down the heart, anytime.
How about you pray about that?
While you do, I’m going to go repent of writing a blog post that uses the phrase “heart Jesus has pimped out” in it.
Some of this article is excerpted from Vince’s new book, “Restore: Break Out Of Your Past and Into God’s Future.” Check out the book to learn more about how God can restore you.
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