A Matter of the Heart

Kerri Ash, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | August 24, 2023

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2:1-4

“I am so sorry I am late…” I said to my friend breathlessly as I approached our table at the coffee shop. I continued with a litany of excuses that led to my tardiness. Apologies for being late were common for me—and with each apology, an underlying shame and harsh judgment of myself grew, becoming an undercurrent to my daily life:  

I am disorganized and thoughtless. 

I’m inconsiderate and unable to get my act together.

I’m a terrible person.

This judgment of myself became a heavy yoke as I began applying it to other areas of my life—my housekeeping, the condition of my car, my inability to keep up with my family’s laundry, every lost/late permission slip… My imperfections became my identity, and as much as I tried, it was one I couldn’t escape.

See, I had done all the productivity workshops and read all the organizing books—I even checked out a library book on time management (and returned it late). No matter how I tried, I couldn’t change my actions by my works. Little did I know that it was because my problem wasn’t an action issue but a heart one.  

I began to see a Christian counselor who saw right away that who I was saying I am didn’t align with who God says I am. He read Psalm 139:7-18 over me, inserting my name in every line, and then shared 1 Sam 16:7. In this verse, God tells us that He doesn’t look at us the way others do. Humans see our outside (actions), but He sees our heart. This was the moment of repentance to which my kind Father led me. I prayed, “God, I am so sorry that I defined myself by my actions instead of my heart. Show me who You say I am.”  

He heard me and He acted. Thus began my journey with Him to discover my heart. He highlighted my gifts (leadership, hospitality, listening, presence, and encouragement) and invited me to operate from them. Rather than demanding that I improve my doings, He offered me grace for them and invited me to give myself that same grace. Over time, I felt the yoke lighten as the truth of who I am became absorbed within me.  

Just like in today’s verse, through all my apologies, God, in His kindness, led me to repentance. Don’t get me wrong, I am still late sometimes, and my couch is covered in laundry as I write this—but as I have allowed myself to see myself as He does, my yoke is light. He is a God of hearts.

Next Steps 

  • Are you weary of trying to change your actions? Ask God to show you your heart.
  • This song by Micah Tyler, “Different,” is all about asking God for heart change. May it bless you.