thinking about the heart

Dallas Willard says that “The process of spiritual formation thus understood require precise, testable, thorough knowledge of the human self. Psychological and theological understanding of the spiritual life must go hand in hand. Neither of them is complete without the other. (The Great Omission, p. 74) This made a great deal of sense to me… its like, I need to be a student of God and a student of people and their behavior and this will help me help them see how the Gospel can impact their heart and then from hearing the Word, receiving the Spirit and becoming changed from the heart, we show the effects of the Gospel in our outer lives: the Fruit of the Spirit. (from ideas on Willard, p.75)

I was dealing with a student today who displayed what a friend of mine used to call passive-aggressive behavior. I asked another guy what it really meant (he had a degree in psychology). He explained it to me (see the link below)… I said, “but don’t most people do this from time to time?” He said, “yeah, but there are some people who make it their primary means of dealing with problems with others.” I went “Oh, okay.” [BTW, there is a definition and description on an NIH website HERE.]

So, here’s the deal, I was teaching recently about the need for confrontation and confession in community and was asked if a person really needed to go to the person they had offended, I said “well, Jesus told us not to bring an offering to the Lord until we have gotten right with an offended brother (my paraphrase).”  When I do or say X to get around talking straightforwardly to a brother about an offence, I am being unbiblical and manifesting passive aggressive behavior.

So when I act in avoidance of clear speaking with my brother, when I manipulate, when I coerce, I am acting out of a spirit that is not in tune with the Spirit and I need to have the Gospel afresh in my life. Then I can be real and up front with my fellow humans. For me to see this in my self, my brothers need to be real with me and I with them.

On an unrelated note, I just stole these pix from… the first is me sharing with a group of university students about ‘calling’…


I really enjoy dialogue with these university students when I am in Bp. I look forward to meeting with them on my next trip. Perhaps next time we’ll talk about passive aggressive behavior as a window to the soul.


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3 responses to “thinking about the heart

  1. oh yeah, I stole this pic from Mark.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the fascinating quote by Willard.

    It is interesting to ponder how our psychological makeup and/or condition affects our spiritual life – probably most often without our conscious knowledge. How often do I simply fall back to acting out my neuroses rather than responding grace-fully from a life indwelled by His Spirit? And how many “tenets” of my faith are actually manifestations of my psychological condition (or cultural worldview) rather than the words of Jesus?

    Help us, Jesus!

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