Worried Hearts


A good friend challenged me this past week to look at 1 John 3:20. I have an overactive conscience due to perfectionistic tendencies and a legalistic upbringing. And probably a nervous personality type, as well. OK, if you know me at all, you know I’m a bit neurotic. So…the verse was a good one to see. But it’s also a scary one to understand, I’m thinking.

So…maybe I’m NOT understanding it. That is a very real possibility (See previous paragraph).

The verse was shared in the New Living Translation:

It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our conscience is clear, we can come to God with bold confidence.

I usually read the New American Standard:

We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.

But The Message spoke most clearly to me:

This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!

So..what do you think? Is this paraphrase getting it right…cause…I really need it to be right.


16 responses »

  1. Wow, I hope so. I’ve been criticizing and condemning myself like crazy the past few days, beating myself up over things, and heading right for the pit of depression, if I’m not already there. It is hard to stop the roller coaster once the ride has started, but there must be a panic button around here somewhere….

    Remember where your hope lies… and it isn’t in your “good deeds.”

    I’m praying for you, my friend.

  2. Thank you for the prayers, Heidi. I know you mean it.

    I’m reading a book right now you might want to get. It’s helped me to understand the self-condemnation a bit better. My counselor recommended it. It’s not Christian based, but the insights have been helpful for me.

    Facing Shame: Families in Recovery by Merle A. Fossum and Marilyn J. Mason

    Don’t panic. We’re going to make it, Heidi! He does take ALL our sins away…ALL.

    Love you, friend, and praying for you, as well.

  3. I don’t know if it is right but I understand your need for it to be right though. Often it feels “right” to self-criticize and condemn and seem “wrong” to feel good or bold. I may have to check out that book Michelle.

  4. There must be something i’m missing here Sis?

    By ‘over-active conscience’ do you mean you are JUDGING yourself for what you have done – or could have done differently??? or do you mean you know in your heart you could be doing more but are finding justifications to not do so?

    If the former – please stop since only HE is ‘qualified’ to judge you – neuroticism is not something of use to anyone. πŸ™‚

    If the latter, you KNOW what you are capable of doing and so long as you are doing it in accordance with the rest of 1 John 3 then you can rest assured – he knows it. πŸ™‚

    As long as you continue to do what He commands us all to do – there will be no cause to fear ‘might have beens’

    Focus on what is to be done – not what could/should have been done before.

    love you


  5. “So many, many, many, many times my heart has condemned me for that which I could never be responsible for.”

    It’s really been helpful for me, Ric. And I’ve only read the first couple of chapters. It is hard reading though. Too close to the truth. I have a friend (haha) whose counselor told him NOT to read anything about shame yet, it would set him back. I don’t really know where that line is drawn. Praying for you…right now…

    Hey, Mr. Love! Yes. I am judging myself. I want to stop. I need to stop. It’s as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you…” My accusers live inside my head with the many tapes I need to erase. It would be great if we could press the rewind button and start over from the top. I suppose we all feel that way about many things…???

    I received a great email today from a “friend” advising me to choose today to do one thing different to make life better for me and the family. Hmmm…I think it starts with me. Love you, Love!

  6. This verse has been one of my favorites since … middle school? … when I found it. “God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things …” SO comforting. It says to me, “God understands what’s really going on. You don’t have to explain yourself.” That’s rather big for me – who feels rather constantly misunderstood. Most of the time I let it roll off – I know I’m significantly different than most people, and I don’t expect them to understand. I expect I’ll have to explain myself. So … having a God who doesn’t ever need me to explain myself? Peace. “Neither do I condemn you.” Yes.

    I’m thinking … when I posted on addiction it forced me to process the thought from the Bible’s perspective. There seems to be a lot in the concept of forgetting. God does. And at least a few times we are commanded to. Yet – to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I know how. So i think I need to learn.

    And about that verse … I’m surprised you didn’t catch that the first one is predicated on the one before it. “We will know by this …” The previous verse reads: “18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” John 3 is defining sin, righteousness, love, and hate. He’s talking about how to tell when you are living in the image of God and when you’re not. He’s saying, “it’s easy to tell! Don’t be in doubt!” Verse 7 says: “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” And he goes on to say that righteousness lives in love. That love to the brethren – not in word or tongue, but in deed and truth – is living in the righteous image of God Himself, and in this we shall assure our hearts, whenever our hearts condemn us. My dear, the love of God flows out of you – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel it. Allow yourself to know that you are loved, and that you also love in return, and be at peace.

    β™₯ U!

    β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯

  7. Whew.

    My husband held me and had a similar conversation with me this morning. I understand all too well what you’re talking about. Wish neither one of us understood it, Red.

  8. Me too, Mandy.

    Godly husbands are true blessings. The gift they give when being used by Him…wow. I hope you learn to believe him. It’s taken 25 years, but I’m beginning to hear God through him.

  9. God has totally rocked my socks off with this new snazzy Message version of the Word. I know what you’re going though on this and it is so comofrting to KNOW that we have a compassionate God that understands us and is telling us, “It’s really going to be OK, stop beating the heck out of yourself!”

  10. Love you, Darla!!

    β€œIt’s really going to be OK, stop beating the heck out of yourself!”

    You know, Selena, I think I heard this…I mean REALLY heard this today. I’m still a bit baffled. He is a compassionate, merciful, loving God. And He delights in me…delights in me. WOW.

  11. Weeeellll… as i see it you’re close Sis!

    it actually started with Him – but He won’t let you let Him do it all for you – you have a Vital part to ‘play’ – and you ‘started’ long ago – almost as long ago as i did πŸ˜‰

    Just don’t be the one to completely give up first – keep true to your Faith – to True Faith in Him – yes? if we face a road block on our path – it’s ok to backtrack a few steps to pick up the true path again and work out the best way to come close to Him again on our journey.

    Beauty – like the mote – is in the eye of the beholder Sis! πŸ˜‰


  12. P.S. – i do feel sorry for you women sometimes… Tam and Elle Macpherson (Aussie supermodel) have both had similar trouble viewing themselves as Beautiful.

    I could easily find a few thousand people who would strongly disagree with you all on that score. πŸ™‚


  13. “if we face a road block on our path – it’s ok to backtrack a few steps to pick up the true path again and work out the best way to come close to Him again on our journey.”

    It is OK. We do need to stop and understand what’s happened. And when we ask Him to help us understand, He is so faithful to do just that.

    Thanks, Love.

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