The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? -Jeremiah 17:9

I’m not really a fighter. If I encounter resistance, I think I would usually rather stop and try something different. By nature, I would rather just avoid having to fight for something. I’d rather do something that didn’t require resistance, I think.

One of the things I’ve been learning lately, probably much later in life than I should have, is that you have to fight for your heart. Everyone wants your heart, you have to fight to keep it yours.

What do you have to fight for? What don’t you?

Fight discouragement. If you couldn’t tell, I struggle with discouragement. Something I am learning is that discouragement is ok in small doses. It tells us what’s not working. It helps us figure out a better way. But you can’t can’t can’t CAN’T let it into your heart.

Once it sets up shop in your heart, it takes over. It invites all of its friends over, throws a party, and all of his worthless friends (despair, sadness, hopelessness, etc) are crashing at your place, paying no rent, and won’t leave.

Fight it! Don’t let it gain a foothold. Be confident in who God made you to be. Don’t let it gain a toehold.

Fight impurity. I was watching a SWiTCH ( student ministry) message by Andy Tilly where he had a great quote that really struck me. It went something like: “God’s not after your virginity, he’s after your purity.” Of course we all remember when Jesus said that lusting after a woman is like committing adultery in your heart, and it’s the same idea.

You can be a virgin and still be impure. I am. Purity has a lot more to do with where your heart is than your penis. (Yes, I just said that. Deal with it.) Keep your heart on the right things.

Fight ignoring the lost sheep. So often I see one of my lambs go astray and nothing I do to pursue them is working, so I let the idea work into my heart that they’re just gone. Fight it. Fight to keep them in your heart. Fight to keep praying for them. Fight to keep them in your life. Don’t give up.

Fight for your heart to hurt. To “protect” our hearts, I’m so easily persuaded that I need to lock it away in some lead box, and keep it as far away from human life and human emotion as possible. This wounds the heart — far more than wearing it on my sleeve. Someone has said that the only way to know love is to know pain. I want my heart to hurt. I want it to hurt for my lost lambs. I want it to hurt when there’s injustice. I want it to hurt for all the things that hurt God’s heart.

There’s a song I’ve been listening to lately that talks about Jesus coming to earth, and it’s beautiful. But there’s a line I vehemently disagree with. It goes, “God came to earth and for the first time felt pain.” I don’t believe this is true at all. God’s unrequited love for humanity was so deeply painful that He had to do something about it, even if that something also brought about its own pain.

Your heart needs to hurt for something. To hurt so much for something, that doing something painful for it actually hurts less.

If your heart doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t love, either.

Fight thinking you’re too important. It’s so easy for me to look at the successes in my life and think, “Look at all I’ve accomplished.” I don’t know why but my life has been pretty easy and comfortable. Probably because God knows I’m a giant sissy and could never handle anything else.

But it’s so easy to turn around something like success from being a gift from God into a product of me. To begin thinking or saying that I’m responsible. To think, pridefully, that I’m far more important than I really should be.

It’s such a privilege, again and again and again, to see where God is working in this world. And to realize that I may know just 5 areas where He’s working but there are untold millions of other places I can’t even imagine. What an awesome responsibility to be trusted to be a tiny part of what God is working on.

Fight thinking you’re not important enough. I cycle between this one and the last one. I’m highly competitive, so those times when someone else is kicking butt at ministry means I’m thinking how worthless and useless what I do is. Why do I even bother at all, I so often wonder. But God chose you. Specifically. In advance. Gifted with a combination of gifts, abilities, money, and opportunity absolutely no one anywhere has ever had or will ever have again. Gifted to do something important. Don’t miss it.

Fight for relationship. I switched jobs from working from home to a regular commute job 20 miles away. My fuel bill approaches $300 a month. But it’s so easily worth it because every morning during my commute, I pray openly and out loud. I’ve never prayed prayers like this ever before. I’ve never prayed bolder, stronger or more powerfully. I’ve never felt closer and more in touch with who God made me be.

I can tell you that I’m never going back to working from home. Or joining a car pool.

Fight to love the right things. Don’t fall in love with ministry. Don’t fall in love with programs. Don’t fall in love with progress, or ideas, or even making a difference. Fall in love with people.

I started doing student ministry 7ish years ago and had a crew of guys. I fell in love with all of them. It may be weird to say it that way, but I did. Last Sunday, I ran into one of them at church, nearly 20, and I still felt the same way. I have a crew of sixth graders now and I feel exactly the same way about them, and I know in 7, 10, 20, 30 years I’ll feel the same. In love with every unique story, every unique gift, every unique life. I pray over a list of names every day, praying prayers that God will use to echo for many lifetimes.

There is something great about that. Something special. Something, I don’t know, holy. And you don’t get that by loving programs. Only through passionately falling in love with people. Mess and all.

Fight to fight! Fight to keep the fight alive in your hearts! Stay on fire and don’t burn out! Romans 12:11-13 probably has the best advice I have ever read on this: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.”

God put a fight in you! (and even, non-fighting me) Fight to keep the fight!