Do you see it?
It's right there.
Behind the flowers.
It's Poison Ivy.
I hate the weed because I'm allergic to it, but it fades so nicely behind the scene.
The beauty of the flowers in front hide the weed in the back.
I have two options here: 1) leave the weed and keep it in the background, hoping no one will come in contact with it; or, 2) I can intentionally get a broad-leaf herbicide and kill it.
My bad habits springing from my heart are like that poison ivy growing in my flowerbed. I think they go unnoticed because the flowers of my public behavior built on good habits masks them, but they are there. They betray my heart's deepest motives even when I think they don't. My "unseen" habits, however, do affect those who come near me whether I tell them they are there or not. People are made ill, or, at least, irritated by my selfish behaviors.
Like poison ivy in the flowerbed, I have two options with my habits: 1) I can leave them alone and try keeping the poisonous ones in the background, hoping no one will be hurt by them; or, 2) I can intentionally work to know my heart, tutored by the Holy Spirit, and then destroy and replace them with habits that add to the beauty of my life.
I know it's easier to kill weeds in the flowerbed than change habits in my life. Seeing the motives in my heart behind the habit is harder still. But I will never know the full beauty of a life lived for God and others until I work to know my heart and change the habits that mold my behavior.
Dallas Willard wrote astutely, "A carefully cultivated heart will, assisted by the grace of God, foresee, forestall, or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying, 'Why?.'" (Renovation of the Heart, 14 Kindle Edition)
Beauty in a flowerbed begins and ends in carefully cultivated soil.
Beauty in life begins and ends in a 'carefully cultivated heart.'