Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
2 Corinthians 6:11-13
I wonder if you're like me. One of the hardest things I have struggled with in my relationships (personal/professional/church) is opening my heart. Opening your heart to someone requires vulnerability, transparency, honesty, and trust while seemingly jeopardizing your self-esteem, privacy, and guise. And, then there is the pending anxiety about what that person will do with that information. How will they feel about you? What will they say in response to what you disclose? What will they do now? Whew, it can be a daunting, heart-wrenching, and scary experience.
Opening your heart to someone requires vulnerability, transparency, honesty, and trust while seemingly jeopardizing your self-esteem, privacy, and guise.
We tend to more easily open our hearts when we believe the other person loves us enough to respond with compassion and acceptance rather than fear and disappointment. But, I have come to understand that opening my heart to someone is less about them and more about me. My courage, my strength, my purpose, my identity, my well-being. But, is that it? Is it really about what I have, or rather what I do? For the last few years, opening my heart was easier as I grew confident in my identify in Jesus. Still, there was always too much fear in being honest and transparent. I continued to consider people's opinions of me in an unhealthy manner. Thankfully, I have come to understand in the Word of God that my approach to disclosure and transparency was not Biblical or Christlike. Here's why.
In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he reveals that the secret to opening our heart is LOVE. (It always seems to come back to love, doesn't it?) He says that the proof that they have opened their hearts to the Corinthians is their blatant honesty. But, what he says next is the most revealing as to how they opened their hearts. Paul wrote, "There is no lack of love on our parts." That's right. Paul and his team were able to open their hearts to the Corinthians because they loved them, NOT because they were loved by the Corinthians. Paul goes on to acknowledge the communities' lack of love and he pleads for them to open their hearts. From these three verses, it is clear that when we love others as God has commanded us to love we have the ability to open our heart.
...the secret to opening our heart is LOVE.
To be honest with you, it was only last week that I opened my heart to someone...the Christian way. Was I nervous? Oh, yes. Was I intimidated? A little. However, my courage to do the right thing came by acknowledging who I was in Jesus. In Him, I am free, whole, justified, and loved. I do not, we do not, have to depend on anyone else to make us free, whole, justified, or loved, nor is our status in Christ jeopardized by what we reveal. Jesus first opened His hearts to us so that we would have the ability to open our hearts to others. We have the ability to be honest and open our hearts to others because of our love, not theirs. So, that's what I did.
I do not, we do not, have to depend on anyone else to make us free, whole, justified, or loved, nor is our status jeopardized by what we reveal.
Last week's episode of "opening my heart" went very well, but there have also been episodes when it didn't. I have learnt that you cannot rely on others for what you can only get from God. And, those whom God has appointed and anointed to be in your life and walk with you will be open and compassionate with anything you tell them. Sometimes, people need a moment to understand or sort out what you are telling them. However, you can be confident in knowing that those who are called to you will commit to you. (The opposite is also true.) Your relationship, your promotion, your leadership, your influence, or your future will not be compromised. When you are in the will of God, that is all the security and assurance you need. Nonetheless, your only responsibility is to love.
So, I ask you, do you really love God or do you just reverence God out of duty?
There is another part of these verses that I have not addressed yet and it gives us insight into our relationship with God, our Father. Paul said to the Corinthians, "I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children." As children of God, we must also open our hearts to Him. What does it mean to open our hearts to God? Well, it's much the same as opening your heart to others. As previously discussed, we must first love God and then be completely honest in our prayers and confessions to Him. This sounds simple enough, but we rarely address the commandment to love God. So, I ask you, do you really love God or do you just reverence God out of duty? Loving God comes from a pure heart that desires the wholeness of God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), to be in relationship with Him, and obey His commandments.
Next, we must learn to be honest and transparent with God despite His omniscience, because God cannot correct what we do not confess. Through prayer we can change God's mind about our situation, but you will never change God's mind about you. He loves you. He always has and He always will despite what you do. Confession is the key to repentance, and repentance comes from an open heart. Being vulnerable in God's presence and weak in spirit is what makes God's strength perfect in us (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). This is the beauty of opening our hearts to God and thereby establishing His sovereignty in our life. In sum, loving God leads to opening our heart to God which then leads to breakthroughs.
God cannot correct what we do not confess.
My prayer is that you will more readily open your heart to God and others because of your love, and that you will not be afraid of or idolatrize people's opinions above the truth of who you are in Jesus. God already sees you and knows you, so believe that opening your heart has no ramifications that will lead to God - your judge and jury - thinking any less of you. Whether in your personal, professional, or community life, I pray that you commit to walking in spirit and in truth.