Proverbs 17:20

A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.

The problem for such a man above is not bad luck, as he would think is the cause. Nor is the problem one of circumstances – if only he had money, a good job, a job without a boss, neighbors who appreciated him, etc. Jesus stated clearly his problem: it is his heart. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…” (Mark 7:21).

If only we “good” people could understand this principle; then we would not be perplexed about the sins of others, nor the bad things that happen to us. We wonder how “bad” people can keep behaving badly. Bad behavior is the mark of a crooked heart. It neither seeks good, nor (should it be under the illusion that it is seeking good) can it find it. And the dishonest tongue is dishonest because of the heart that is crooked. Thus, if you link up with an ungodly neighbor, understand that your neighbor will expose you to, and try to lead you into, sin.

Understand more that much of our own calamities are the result of our own sin. Christians will often ask if their suffering is the result of sin. Even then they are following the wrong trail, for they try to connect their suffering with sin that is not a direct cause. “I am having a hard time at work because I must learn to trust God more…I need more faith…I need to be more disciplined…” Often our hard times are the result of direct sin – speaking rudely to our neighbor, showing dishonor to our supervisor, complaining, doing poor work. Indeed, where many times we credit suffering to being “bold witnesses for Christ,” the real truth is that we have been arrogant and obnoxious.

Check the heart. It is the hardest work to do, but the most necessary.

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