Patricia Hofer

Binding the “strong man” of our independent self

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote: “… there is something within us, behind our emotions and behind our wishes, an independent self, that, after all, decides everything and controls everything… and if God is to take possession of us, it must be into this central will or personality that He enters” (The Christians Secret of a Happy Life 80). In Matthew and Mark, after his comments about a house or kingdom “divided against itself,” Jesus talks about binding or tying up “the strong man” (Mark 3: 24, 27). This natural will that operates in the human heart can be a powerful foe. We might wish to do something selfless, we might even choose to do something selfless, but our “strong” self-existent nature often finds a way of overriding our best intentions. … And yet the Way that Jesus taught actually must establish itself in our hearts, in this part of us that no one but God ever sees. That is where the Lord binds “the strong man,” separating us from natural willfulness and self-interest. Our heart is where we forgive. Our heart is where we find our faith and our comfort and our hope. When we are consecrated there, our actions take care of themselves. (Driving into the Dawn, 2007 ©️, chapter 54)

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