Performance Issue or Heart Issue?

Not long ago I was visiting with a guy who is emerging from a prodigal son season in his life. He's made a bunch of really dumb choices and wrecked a bunch of relationships in the process of drifting from the Father. Today he's on the journey back home, but is realizing that pig slop doesn't rinse off as quickly as it goes on.

As a part of our conversation, he lamented the "wasted years" of his life and said, "It just kills me that I let it go that far. If I had only made the decision back then to be in the Word every day, pray more often, and stay involved in church, things would never have gotten this out of hand."

His rationale is logical. Unfortunately, it's not biblical.

My buddy's prodigal journey wasn't the result of a performance issue; it was the result of a heart issue. He didn't wander away because he wasn't reading the Bible enough, praying enough, going to church enough. He wandered away because he has a heart that is prone to wander away.

In fact, it's God's mercy to my buddy that he didn't keep performing well when he went away. If he hadn't quit performing at the same time his heart wandered away, it might have taken him a lot longer to realize his need to return. He would have still been going through the outward charade fooling himself into thinking he was still close to home and causing him to attribute his "rock bottom" experience to a host of different things for some time before he realized what was really missing.

The reasons kids wander away from God at college isn't that they stop going to church. The reason husbands wander away from God and into the arms of another woman is not that they failed to read their Bible enough or pray enough; it is that sin is at work inside our bodies (Romans 7:23) so that we wander away from God.

The problem isn't our performance, so a change in performance won't fix it. The only solution is to be renewed through the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11) from the inside out (Romans 12:1-2).


John Hughes said...

Might the first step into Romans 8 and 12 be 1John1:6-9?