“Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.’” Jeremiah 17:5-10
I learned at a fairly young age I was destined to be a hopeless romantic. I am a guy truly in tune with his emotions, and engages with them pretty consistently. I bought the lie of cheesy movies, which was to always “follow your heart.” I took that line and ran with it. I would live life with my heart behind the steering wheel, but things were not as great as the movies made them out to be.
I found myself worn out, frustrated, and confused on where my heart was constantly trying to take me. It seemed as though I was not able to get anywhere at all with my heart in charge of my life. I ended up in unhealthy relationships and had plenty of long nights lying in bed restless because I felt as though following my heart was not getting me where I wanted to go.
A crucial moment of my story is when all of the poor heart-led-decisions peaked. I went and told my grandpa all about what was going on. He was a spiritual powerhouse and a pillar in my life for starting my walk with Jesus. I’ll never forget him telling me about this passage in Jeremiah, and I was amazed.
I realized I have no ability to lead my own heart. My predisposition, all of our predispositions, is a sinful way of life. Since we are born into a sinful life, our hearts cannot be given full reign of our lives. We are in need of someone who can lead us and model a life with a perfect heart. Surely, this is where our need for Jesus surfaces.
Another passage that goes alongside what Jeremiah is revealing, is from another prophet named Ezekiel. Ezekiel wrote, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (36:26-27).
Ezekiel foreshadowed one of the purposes of Jesus coming to this world. Even though it is a strange thought, Jesus came to set us free from our own hearts. He knew we would be obedient to our hearts, and our hearts do not lead us in the best pathway.
Jeremiah revealed a much better pathway when he told us what the Lord says about those who trust in Him. The imagery of the one who trusts in God shows a life that is thriving and constantly being sustained. Trusting and walking with Jesus will allow us to be sustained in this life, but our hearts will only lead us to parched lands.
The last verse we read in today’s passage is interesting, depending on your perspective. The most common reaction is probably excitement because it seems that, according to the promise, you could get your way based on what is in your heart and mind. Though we may feel as though getting what our heart desires will give us the best life, I do not think it is the truth. The promise of getting what is in our hearts immediately follows where the Lord said our hearts are deceitful and sick!
What does this mean? If we want to have what we desire, we should simply try to follow our hearts. On the other hand, if we want to have what is best for us, we should try to follow Jesus. As we follow Jesus we will see His heart with more clarity, and as we see His heart with more clarity we will find our heart becoming more like His. Our heart will lose influence in our lives and we can begin to follow the heart of the One who created it.
Have you been living the life of someone who is “following their heart”? How would you describe the results of living this way?
Do you believe your heart is deceitful and sick? Why do you feel this way, or why do you not feel this way?
What if God’s perspective on your heart is true? What steps can you take to gain clarity on God’s heart, so He can begin to transform yours?
Father, thank you for revealing this tough truth. Surely, as I look back on my life I can see when I follow my heart, life does not always go as well. I pray I learn to trust You always have a better purpose for me. Help transform my heart into a heart that reflects Yours. Replace the heart of stone with flesh. I thank You for who You are Father, and I pray in Your holy name, Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.