Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A “Not Right” Heart


This illustration depicts the procedure for obtaining 'salt gall water' . Salt is first extracted from sea water by heating. The hot salt is then put in a wooden trough with a drain, below which is placed a vessel to catch the dark liquid that runs out of it. This is salt gall water, also known as brine (lushui).The text states: Salt gall water is salty and bitter in sapor, and highly poisonous. It must not be consumed by human beings or domestic animals.

Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. (Acts 8:21-23 KJV)

It is evident that I’m interested in the meaning of words – what they are supposed to convey, not simply what we perceive they might mean. There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding about “gall.”

gall (ɡôl/)
1. bold, impudent behavior.
synonyms: effrontery, impudence, impertinence, cheek, cheekiness, insolence, audacity, temerity, presumption, cockiness, nerve, shamelessness, disrespect, bad manners
2. the contents of the gallbladder; bile (proverbial for its bitterness).
synonyms: bitterness, resentment, rancor, bile, spleen, malice, spite, spitefulness, malignity, venom, vitriol, poison

None of those definitions are attributes we would wish for ourselves – or for those around us. Peter chose the description after Simon approached the apostles and tried to buy their works for his own gain:

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. (Acts 8:18-20 KJV)

Simon responded:

Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. (Acts 8:24 KJV)

Why? Peter didn’t curse him, didn’t threaten to bring the wrath of God down upon him, so why was Simon afraid “of these things which ye have spoken”? Peter had given the gospel message. The same one I’ve given over and over, often in Peter’s own words. And, I’ve failed just as badly as Peter did. Yet Peter and I did our own praying for forgiveness. Simon did not understand that he was responsible for his own actions, requiring his personal response to God – not some other person’s.

We cannot blame anyone for our own distance from God. Even if their heart is “Not Right”, we can only accept change to our own, not theirs. It is up to us to approach God for the change to our heart. We may be concerned for the other person, even care about their relationship to God – but we cannot allow the gall of bitterness to stand between God and His work in our lives.

If we do – if we retain the bitterness, the poison – it affects our lives and we live in the bondage, not the person we deem as the cause. Allow God to work in our own lives, because we should have no part in their.

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