The Cure for a Cynical Heart

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”
(Psalm 9:1–2)

 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and while everyone is busy making preparations for the big meal and the family gatherings, may we not forget the reason why we’re all together – to give thanks to God for all His blessings.

I recently came upon the following from A.W. Tozer on Thankfulness As a Moral Therapeutic that I thought I would share which tells of the benefits of a spirit of thankfulness.

In this world of corruption there is a danger that the earnest Christian may overreact in his resistance to evil and become a victim of the religious occupational disease, cynicism. The constant need to go counter to popular trends may easily develop in him a sour habit of faultfinding and turn him into a sulky critic of other men’s matters, without clarity and without love.

What makes this cynical spirit particularly dangerous is that the cynic is usually right. His analyses are accurate, his judgment sound. He can prove he is right in his moral views; yet for all that he is wrong, frightfully, pathetically, wrong. But because he is right, he never suspects how tragically wrong he is. He slides imperceptibly into a condition of chronic bitterness and comes at last to accept it as normal.

Now as a cure for the sour, faultfinding attitude I recommend the cultivation of the habit of thankfulness. Thanksgiving has great curative power. The heart that is constantly overflowing with gratitude will be safe from those attacks of resentfulness and gloom that bother so many religious persons. A thankful heart cannot be cynical.

We should never take any blessing for granted, but accept everything as a gift from the Father of Lights. Whole days may be spent occasionally in the holy practice of being thankful. We should write on a tablet one by one the things for which we are grateful to God and to our fellow men. And a constant return to this thought during the day as our minds get free will serve to fix the habit in our hearts.

In trying to count our many blessings the difficulty is not to find things to count, but to find time to enumerate them all… To my parents I owe my life and my upbringing. To my teachers I owe that patient line-upon-line instruction that took me when I was a young, ignorant pagan and enabled me to read and write. To the patriots and statesmen of the past I owe the liberties I now enjoy. To numerous and unknown soldiers who shed their blood to keep our country free I owe a debt I can never pay. And I please God and enlarge my own heart when I remind the Lord that I am grateful for them.

Tozer, A.W. The Root of the Righteous. (Harrisburg, PA, Christian Publications Inc., 1955) Pg. 122-125.

So if you’re struggling with a bitter and cynical heart, find your cure in thankfulness. Make your list of blessings today – count your blessings, name them one by one. Pour out before the Lord your gratitude and praise, not just when the bird is on the table, but each and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sola Deo Gloria!

What More Could You Want

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have,
for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
(Hebrews 13:5)

Contentment is a difficult thing to find.

Honestly, the world does not encourage contentment. Just as soon as you get the latest smartphone, there’s a new model announced. You think your car has all the bells and whistles, wait until what you see next year’s line. Whatever you’re reading this email on, it’s already out of date. The grass is always greener, softer, more “grassy” on the other side of the fence.

It’s not a matter of keeping up with the Joneses anymore, whoever they might have been. It used to be that you knew the Joneses, lived in the same town as them, operated in a similar economy. The notion of “keeping up” was at least in the realm of possibility.

Now, with the constant barrage of social media and worldwide advertising we are encouraged to compare ourselves with the unattainably wealthy, and to never be satisfied until we are just like them. We live under the constant pressure to have more, to get more, to be more. Our identity is wrapped up in our possessions, we are defined by what we have.

But it’s not just the stuff.

There is also a particular pressure to live up to the impossible standards of the “perfect” life that’s floating around out there. We act like we have to have it all together. You know what I mean:

  • The car is detailed, not a stale French fry to be found.
  • The children are clean, quiet, well-mannered, and always right on time for their soccer/music/scouts/church events with a warm batch of brownies to share.
  • The house is immaculate, maintaining that delicate balance of feeling comfortable and looking like everything was just delivered by Ethan Allen.
  • You’re never stressed, never tired, and always available to play another round of Monopoly with the kids AND volunteer to take meals to the shut-ins AND lead a small group study.

Granted, no one has ever done this and survived, but we all feel like that’s what everyone else expects of us, and we have to maintain the illusion. We wouldn’t want to let anyone down.

Why do we act like this?  Why do we build our identity on the things we acquire, on the things we do, on the illusion that we are so well put together? We rush through this life, grabbing up everything we can, thinking that maybe the things we surround ourselves with will finally bring meaning, satisfaction, or security to our fragile existence.  We compare ourselves to the people around us, wanting to be as happy as they are, never realizing what insecurities or pains they are wrestling with inside.

Perhaps it stems from a case of misplaced love. That’s why the author of Hebrews says, “Keep your life from the love of money.” Your identity and contentment are really a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.” Where is your heart directed? You will either love God with all your heart, and all the priceless delights will be found in His provision, or your heart will be divided among the passing and unsatisfying bar-coded indulgences. Both may satisfy, but only one will satisfy completely.

It could be, too, that we have forgotten who, and whose we are. This often happens when our hearts are divided, we not only lose our contentment, we lose our identity. Kevin DeYoung, in his book The Hole in our Holiness, puts it this way,

If we are heirs to the whole world, why should we envy?  If we are Gods’ treasured possession, why be jealous?  If God is our Father, why be afraid?  If we are dead to sin, why live in it?  If we’ve been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways? If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world? If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself?

Here’s the thing, if you want to find contentment, if you want peace from the rat-race, if you want to be secure in your identity remember God’s promise to you.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the of the age.” He is with us, and we need nothing more for our joy and peace in believing, for our comfort in life and in death, there is not one spiritual blessing withheld from those who seek him with all their heart. Be satisfied in Him, know the soul-satisfying joy of His presence.

Say it with me, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want!”

Sola Deo Gloria!