Only God Can Change the Heart
Written by: Alexis Asamoah
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But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
- Acts 9:15 NIV
It is so easy to see someone’s faults, sins, prejudice and believe that they are too far gone from being saved. However, the amazing thing about the Gospel is that it teaches us about God’s unconditional love for His people. Even when we think of ourselves or someone else as unworthy of being used by God, He makes us new and washes us with His grace.
In Acts 9, the chapter starts out by saying that Saul was in the midst of threatening the disciples, while also preparing to persecute Christians in Damascus, where he was about to travel. Saul had not yet reached the city when he encountered Jesus.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” - Acts 9:4 NIV
What’s important to note is that Jesus spoke to Saul. When we pray for someone’s salvation or for their eyes to be opened to Jesus, we have to let God change that person’s heart. Saul had already heard what the disciples were teaching and still didn’t believe. There are moments when we also don’t realize our own sins, yet it is God’s Word or His voice spoken through someone that gives us insight into ourselves.
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.” - Acts 9:13 NIV
Because we can only see someone’s outward appearance or the things they have done, we often have skewed judgment. We can’t see what God sees because He sees what is in the heart. We also tend to doubt what God can do, but we should never underestimate God’s power, as He can use whomever He pleases to do His work.
[...] love covers a multitude of sins. - 1 Peter 4:8 NIV
God’s grace is an ocean. His unconditional love is enough to cover any and all sins. So before we go judging ourselves or other people, as if past actions are somehow an indicator of our or their future, we should look to God. He meets us right where we are, even when the world tells us we are far from saving.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 NIV
1. In what ways have you discounted yourself from being used by God?
2. Can you remember a time when God met you in your sin and brokenness?
3. How can you keep from judging outward actions and focusing on how God sees others?
Lord, thank You for saving me when I was still sinning and unaware of my brokenness. Thank You for always meeting me where I am. Help me to love people without judging them. I want to see everyone as an image bearer, worthy of being used by You. Help my spirit to be willing to pray for those around me who harbor prejudice and wrongful thinking. Only You can change them and I lift them up to You. Amen.
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