A little yellow light recently went off inside my wife’s car. You know the one, the “check engine” light. When that light goes on we are faced with a dilemma. Do we pay attention to it and assume that it actually means something significant, or do we just disregard it and pretend we don’t notice it? According to research reported on the website Autoweek, more than half of those who currently have this light on in their car are guilty of driving with it on for more than three months. What harm can there be in that, right? How do you respond when it goes on in your car? Many people, apparently fearing the worst, think it’s best to just disregard it. Who needs expensive repairs anyway?
It’s not an overstatement to suggest that as your engine goes, so goes your car. While you might have a fresh set of tires and your paint sparkles, if your engine goes bad, nothing else is going to matter. Unfortunately, too many people spend too much time on making things look good on the outside of their lives, rather than making sure “all is good under the hood.”
In a strangely parallel way, Proverbs 4:23 says,
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Let me paraphrase this, “As your heart goes, so goes your life.” If there is a problem in your heart, it doesn’t matter how good you look on the outside. If you have a heart problem you’re in serious trouble.
I’ve been thinking about this because of our recent study of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Just this morning I was reading again about how Saul was chosen to become Israel’s first King. What moved me was Saul’s incredible sense of humility when he was told what God was going to do through him. Samuel anointed him as king and told him “all the desire of Israel is turned” toward him. Those are heady words. Saul responded by saying to Samuel that he was nothing… a nobody… a totally insignificant and unworthy person. Samuel explained that God would make him into a King and he would help him overcome his sense of insignificance. He assured him God would immediately begin to do amazing things in his life to confirm his calling. In 1 Samuel 10:9 we read,
“As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.”
Saul began as King, and God did what he promised. For a while, all went well, and then the yellow light came on in Saul’s heart. He was acting in a way unbefitting a King. He chose to disregard the warning and it cost him both his Kingship and his life. Apparently having a good heart once is not the same thing as having a good heart always.
Next comes David’s turn to be King. David is described as “a man after God’s own heart.” Again, these are heady words. David, like Saul, started well and for several decades did very well. Then David began to make a series of very bad decisions. The first bad decision was regarding Bathsheba. The next was regarding Bathsheba’s husband—choosing to have him executed. Yet another bad decision was to try to cover up all the wrong he had done. For a season he thought he had pulled it off. Then God sent a “yellow light” into his life—a man named Nathan. In no uncertain terms, Nathan called him out. And David had to make a decision.
What he did is what makes the story of David and the story of Saul so different. David responded to the warning God sent him. He confessed. He repented. He owned up to what was going on inside him. In Psalm 51 we read of David crying out to God for forgive him and to fix his heart. True to form, God did just that; that’s what God does when we ask him to forgive us.
Is there any “yellow light” going off in your heart right now? Anything the Spirit has been using to try to get your attention? Because God loves you he will warn you when you are about to do damage to your soul. His Spirit will prompt and convict and remind and even harass – whatever it takes to get your attention. That’s how much he wants to keep you from doing harm to yourself. And when he does, you have a decision to make.
By the way, when the yellow light went on in our car, we decided to take it to the shop immediately. After a quick diagnosis we were told the problem was a “sensor” had gone bad. Our car was warning us we could no longer be warned if there was a problem! We didn’t have a problem with the engine; we had a problem with the warning system. How cool is that?
God has also given you a warning system. When his warning light goes on, check into the problem. Don’t ignore it and don’t disregard it. Sincerely ask him what the problem is. If you do so, it will most likely save you a whole lot of pain later on.