“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
With the beginning of a new year, I was encouraged to minimize the clutter in my home. I felt empowered to tackle the piles of papers that has sat for months needing my attention and to clean out and organize my closets that had been neglected for some time. However, during the process God spoke to my heart and turned my focus inward. Suddenly I felt compelled to de-clutter my mind and heart, not just my home. How much has God been speaking to your heart lately? Are you so busy and focused on other things that you aren’t hearing from Him?
John 6:27 says “Stop toiling and doing and producing for the food that perishes and decomposes, but strive and work and produce rather for the [lasting] food which endures [continually] unto life eternal; the Son of Man will give (furnish) you that.” (AMP)
What Jesus is saying is to stop focusing on things of this world that are fleeting. Yes of course we need food, clothing, and shelter. Those are all necessities. But when we start obsessing over these things and wanting more and more material possessions we let the devil get a foothold on our minds and hearts.
Even John became jealous of all Jesus was accomplishing! John 3:30 says “He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.] I love this verse. In other words, clear the heart-clutter. Focus more on learning to hear from God. And you better believe the devil uses all kinds of tactics to divert your attention away from hearing from God.
So let’s address the emotions that can cause these obstacles.
JEALOUSY– Resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another person’s success or advantage itself steals our focus from God and all he has done in our lives. It’s hard to accept gracefully the fact that someone is better at something than you are. Instead let’s turn that emotion into counting our own blessings and focusing on what we DO have and on our own strengths!
FEAR-Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined, causing the feeling or condition of being afraid. But consider the antonyms to fear: courage, security, and calm. If we feed into the emotion of fear, we’re not fully trusting and relying on God.
ANGER-Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire. Anger absolutely will preclude God from speaking to your heart. That is why it is so important to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Forgiving others and turning loose of the anger allows us to have a closer relationship with God and thus allows us to hear Him speaking to our heart.
PRIDE-Having a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. can turn us deaf to God by making us think we don’t need Him. Being humble takes practice, but the reward is more than worth the effort.
ENTITLEMENT– Having the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Feeling that you are owed something prevents you from giving your best efforts. We all need God’s help, but we need to be active participants and not just expect things to be given to us. Only through working for something will we fully appreciate it.
OFFENSE-The violation or breaking of a social or moral rule, transgressions and sin separate us from God. When we are separated from Him we are unable to to hear Him. Whew, this is a biggie since we live in a social media age. Being more connected through social media opens up many ways to allow offense or any of the other stumbling blocks above to occur. We argue over petty things, speak ill of others, and spread rumors.
Offenses are happening in our churches as well. It’s not uncommon to find a spirit of rivalry in church. Even the Baptist’s disciples were offended because Jesus and his followers were baptizing more than John. We shouldn’t live by our emotions. These are all traits that destroy relationships, especially our relationship with God.
On the first day of this New Year I decided I would keep a gratitude/happiness jar. Each day I write down one thing that brought me joy that particular day. I have to say it has helped me to de-clutter my heart and brought my attention back to the things that truly matter in this life. When we react to and dwell on our emotions we are distracted from our walk with Jesus. As we begin this new year, I pray you will examine your own heart, and free yourself from negativity, so you can hear from Him more clearly.
If you truly want a fresh start, make a clean sweep of your heart. 1 Peter 2:1 tells us “So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk.” I especially like the way this verse is phrased in the ERV – “So then, stop doing anything to hurt others. Don’t lie anymore, and stop trying to fool people. Don’t be jealous or say bad things about others.”
God bless you as you increase your faith, and in so doing others may come to know Him as well.