Cancer of the Heart

Posted: February 1st, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Fitness, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever heard of someone having heart cancer? I haven’t.

Lung cancer. Prostate cancer. Breast cancer. All kinds of cancer, but not heart cancer.

In a review of 12,000 autopsies, only seven people were found to have had a cardiac tumor. The Mayo Clinic only sees about one case a year. So it’s a very rare cancer, at least medically. But spiritually, I think it’s a different story. Spiritual heart cancer is pretty common. It’s called pride. And I have it.

I really didn’t think I had it, but I do. The symptoms tend to mask themselves as other things that actually look healthy. On the surface, everything might look good. Underneath though, when we start to examine motives and hidden thoughts, we find this deadly spiritual cancer wreaking havoc.

I don’t know how it might show up in your life, but I’ll give you some examples of how it does in mine.

My pride, this spiritual heart cancer, causes me to fear others more than I fear God. It makes me to want to look better than I actually am. It causes me to value my reputation–what others think and know about me–more than I value what God thinks and knows about me.

In essence, my reputation is my idol. It’s what I worship. It’s what I have to preserve. It’s what comes before everything else.

So how does all that play out in my life?

Well, because I want to be thought well of and to be liked, I will hold back from being honest. Why tell you what I really think and cause tension or conflict? Rather than speaking the truth in love, I won’t speak at all or I’ll tell you what you want to hear. And that’s neither truthful nor loving.

When it comes to my desire for a strong marriage and family–is it because it pleases God or because I want to look good to others? And what is my reason for working out? To be healthy or to simply look better? When I give to others–is it because I’m being generous or because I want to be liked?

The truth is that nothing we do is from a totally pure heart. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about pride that has begun to rule in my heart, not just taint my motives a little.

This morning, I was reading in Mark 2 and 3. Jesus has entered the town of Capernaum and experiences some confrontations with the Pharisees. I encourage you to read the passage. It’s very fascinating to note the reaction the Pharisees have to what Jesus is doing.

The Pharisees are watching Jesus closely, waiting to catch Him breaking the law. Every time He does something they don’t approve of–they confront Him either directly or indirectly. And each time they confront Him, they become more bold in how they do it until Jesus turns the tables and confronts them. When He does, it says:

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

The more I think about the Pharisees, the more I identify with them. These were guys who were trying to do the right thing. They were trying to please God. Outwardly, everything seemed fine. But the problem was their motives were all wrong. Their hearts were far from God. They did things to be noticed by others, not to genuinely please God.

They were filled with a spiritual cancer of the heart. Pride was killing them and they didn’t even know it.

Maybe pride manifests itself differently in your life than it does in mine.

Maybe you always have to have things your way. And so you manipulate. And complain. And criticize.

Maybe your pride causes you to think too highly of yourself. You overestimate your strengths. You don’t listen to others. You don’t solicit feedback. And if others give it, you dismiss it. They really don’t know what they’re talking about, right?

Or maybe you have to be in control. You have a plan for your life and you’re going to see it through. God is mainly here to help you accomplish your goals. It doesn’t occur to you that God isn’t interested in your plans or your goals. He’s interested in you living in submission to Him and doing whatever He calls you to do.

If you’re like me, your first thought is that pride really isn’t a problem for you. And that’s what I would have said a week ago. But my heart is not only prideful, it’s also deceitful. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

I wish I could say I have three action steps to deal with a prideful heart. But I don’t. I need the Great Physician to heal me, but I just don’t know what the course of treatment will look like yet.

Pride is like a cancer that has spread to multiple organs, so I don’t think there’s a quick fix.

Stay tuned.



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