Covenant Marriage - Session 7: The Entangled Heart - David and Lisa Mitts
Communication is the heart of a covenant marriage. The parable of the sower speaks to us about the different ways in which we listen. The first heart condition is what allows Satan to snatch away the seed, the communication, through offense. The second heart condition is the shallow nature of the cultural concepts of what true relationships are about. The superficial joy vanishes when we realize that love is sometimes tough and requires sacrifice.
The third condition of heart is the entangled heart. This is heart that is surrounded with a protection of thorns. Thorns are a protection nature uses to defend the flowers or the fruit. Those of us who live or have lived in Seattle have picked those luscious blackberries in the summer. There is no way to do that without absorbing some skin pricking from thorns. The worst part of being stuck in the way they entangle you into the vine. To get loose, you often get stuck again.
Thorns are instruments of the flesh that are rooted in pride. The Apostle Paul used the picture of a thorn in his flesh to describe the pain that results from self-exaltation, pride:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Thorns also represent the pain that comes into our lives and our relationships when we live lives of compromise. If we do not learn to fully commit and leave open doors, the open doors will become thorns to us.
“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.” (Numbers 33:55)
The thorny heart is the entangled heart. It contains the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the unending desire for other things or people Worldly entanglements are impossible to avoid in our own strength. The occur at the level of our values. Yeshua describes this process as: but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Looking at this type of communication, we see filters.
The first is called “worries of the world”. What does the world worry about? What are the sources of those entanglements?
We know from the word that they are spiritual in origin, and that they affect our thinking:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD THAT HE MAY INSTRUCT HIM?" But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16)
To me, this verse directs me to a choice that must be made about where my thoughts come from. The thoughts from the mind of Christ are foolish to the spirit and thoughts of the world. The world wants to trap my perspectives and the meditations of my heart into a perspective rooted in lack and worry. When I worry, I trust in fear. Worry magnifies negative possibilities. It is the realm of “what if?”.
How can I trust in my relationships if I am constantly magnifying negative possibilities? This shows up as insecurity that at its heart, can push away the very people we want to be in our lives.
We have all experienced this demon. It rears its ugly head through our fears and twists all communication. Yeshua warned us about it:
“"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore, do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
When we come entangled with worry, we lose the very day that is in front of us. This is not to say that planning is unimportant. In fact, having a plan and working that plan is a bulwark against worry.
The deceitfulness of riches is obviously to trust in riches to make us happy. This perspective is anchored in the word Mammon. Contributing to this deception is the unending desire for other things, what the Bible calls coveting.
The combination of trusting in riches and unending desire for other things is said to choke off communication. The word picture is brilliant! Think of two hands squeezing together to prevent life giving oxygen from entering and nurturing the whole body.
Spiritually these two hands of the enemy choke out the life that comes through communication. The pressures of trying to get rich enough to be satisfied and the constant unyielding demands for more and more things cause us to lose perspective in life. So many become driven through the fear of lack and the inability to be appreciative of who and what is in their lives, that there is no joy or peace in the journey.
Yeshua tells us that this choking of communication becomes unfruitful. The fruit of the spirit is replaced by the works of the flesh. What is tragic is that we gain the stuff in life but lose our very soul.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
The fourth and final condition is the one we want to attain to, being productive in bearing the fruits of the Spirit. This is marked by a huge multiplication, 30-60-100 fold.
“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."” (Mark 4:20)
If we look closely at this verse, we see the flow, hearing, accepting or receiving and then bearing fruit. The first step is the sh’ma. Listening with an open heart precedes the effectiveness of any communication. This is all about attention, focus. This is the word picture for “anah”, the Hebrew word for humility.
“Before destruction the heart of a person is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12)
Haughtiness is about being high in one’s own estimation. Humility requires us to surrender our own perspective to truly hear another’s. This precedes “kavod” or honor which is the value that is generated in the relationship through respect. Open listening is all about respect.
Second, is the word receiving or accepting the communication. For me this is the hardest part. Usually, I can focus and hear. What I personally struggle with is accepting or receiving the communication with an open and receptive heart. I find myself often sifting information rapidly as I am trying to determine how it fits with my world view. The problem with this is my lack of understanding makes it difficult to learn from my mistakes when I receive feedback. This is an issue of receiving.
So, how do we get a breakthrough in receiving? I think the key is our sense of worth. The more secure we are in who we are, the less invested we are with protecting ourselves and our identity. This is the possibility of true humility. To truly receive another, we must realize that we are loved and be secure in that love. In that place, we can become one with the communication of another. Ultimately this was the prayer of Yeshua:
““The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one;” (John 17:22)
You see the glory precedes and makes possible the oneness. In that place we can abide and bear fruit of the Spirit in our covenant marriage:
““You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.” (John 15:3-4)
Activation: Abiding exercise. An important component to sense the closeness of God, regardless of our physical location or activity, is that we slow down and are still enough to be able to sense that we are connected with Him and that He is with us. We need to be able to block out the “noise” that is typically all around us so that we can feel close to Him. As well, it’s important to know that our heart is pure and that we have not been in intentional sin. This week, take some quiet time and practice being in His Presence. Allow yourself to hear His voice and to sense Him being near.