The memory verse this week at church was 2 Chr 16:9a - "The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." (NLT)
I'm not sure if that verse is encouraging or not...
It certainly wasn't meant to be an encouragement... not if you look at it in context. It's actually part of a pretty harsh rebuke from a prophet to a King. Rather than relying on God, the King relied on an alliance with an enemy. When the prophet rebukes him, the King gets so angry that he throws the prophet into jail.
Even out of context, there's a "sting" to this verse. Can I ever really say that my heart is fully committed to God? I don't know if my heart has ever been fully committed to anything. At any given moment, I'm going in at least four or five different directions. I can't say that I'm fully committed to any one of them. I like to say that I "multitask," but the truth is that I just work in fits and starts. I'll work one project intensely for a little while, start think about another project... switch gears and go that direction for a while... then on to a third, etc. Even writing this blog I might interrupt myself half a dozen times -- respond to an email, check a website, etc.
I say that I'm a Christian, a "Christ Follower," but am I really? What about when I ignore someone who needs a hand because I'm too busy? What about when I snap at a coworker? What about when I judge someone else or think badly of them? I can't honestly say that I'm fully committed to God in those situations. I can focus on doing better, but even when I do the right things, I don't always do them for the right reasons!
If God is seeking to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him, then I'm in deep trouble.
And I suppose I'm not alone either.
"I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." (Rom 7:21-25 NLT)
It's a little unfortunate, I think, that the chapter ends there. It implies (at least to me) that there is a break in the flow, a change in the topic... and that's not the way it was written. The very next verses are "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death." (Rom 8:1-2 NLT)
Now, that's encouraging.