The Heart

Posted: August 26th, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Other, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

What are your deepest desires? Deepest fears?

What do you want?

The answers to those questions lie within your heart.

The heart is tough to describe though. Even tougher to figure out.

The heart includes our emotions, passions, appetites and conscience. It includes our mind and will.

Of course, I guess you could separate all those different elements, but when it comes right down to it–we’re talking about the heart.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the heart and read this familiar verse in Jeremiah 17:9…

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

That sure doesn’t sound good, does it? Deceitful. But not just deceitful–deceitful above all things. Not just some things. ALL things.

What’s interesting to me is that it doesn’t say the heart is evil. Just deceitful…and beyond cure. Medical science can cure a lot of dangerous diseases that used to be beyond cure. But the heart? It’s beyond cure.

Who can understand the heart? The implication is that no one can. No one can understand the heart, other than God, who says in the very next verse:

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

So the heart is deceitful above all things. And beyond cure. And we cannot even understand our own heart.

No wonder that God warns us in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Above ALL else. Guard your heart. Why? It’s the wellspring, the source, of your life. From it flow your emotions and passions and desires. It sets the direction for your life. It decides what you will care about, what you will invest your life in and who you will worship.

Now listen to God’s heart expressed in Deuteronomy 5:29 says, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”

When we don’t fear (respect and live in awe of) God and keep his commands–our hearts will naturally find someone or something else to fear, to follow, to bow down to, to worship. In other words, we will find another god, an idol for ourselves. We will allow just about anything to take God’s rightful place in our lives.

And then, by consequence, we forfeit God’s best in our lives. There’s no way we can violate the first two of the 10 commandments and think “that it might go well” with us. And yet that’s exactly what our deceitful hearts would have us believe. We think we can live according to our own ways, violate God’s laws and still have life go well.

Because we’ve adopted the world’s values, we’ve come to believe that money, material possessions, the right relationship, food, sex, alcohol, television, pornography, golf, football or some other pursuit will make us feel happy, secure and fulfilled. Many of us will also attend church or a Bible study and think we’re actually living the “Christian life.”

But our hearts have deceived us. We’re not living the life God intended. We’re worshiping idols and lesser gods.

We attend church and toss up a prayer here and there and then wonder why the whole “being a Christian thing” isn’t working for us. We’ll even get angry at God for not coming through for us like we thought He would.

So what’s the answer? What are we supposed to do? How do we know when our own hearts are deceiving us?

Let me suggest two things we can do.

First, we must spend time in God’s word. There’s no substitute for allowing His word to fill our minds and hearts. We will never learn to think like God if all we ever do is fill up on what the world is serving to us. Maybe it’s time to cut back on television, internet, Facebook, Twitter, radio, magazines and the newspaper.

It’s hard to say we don’t have time to spend alone with God if we’re spending four or five hours a day ingesting various forms of media.

Second, we need others. We have to live in community with others who love us and will tell us the truth. And it wouldn’t hurt for us to take the first step and ask for the truth. Give a trusted friend the freedom to speak truth to you. Ask if they see anything in your life that is of concern, any actions or habits or words that aren’t lining up with your beliefs as a follower of Christ.

Yes, we’re forgiven through Christ. Yes, we have a new nature. But we can’t trust our hearts. I wish we could, but I know my own heart wants to deceive me. And yours wants to deceive you.

So above all else, we need to guard them and only allow in what will compel us to love and obey God.

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