Jeremiah 16:12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Jeremiah 18:12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Jeremiah went out to the gates and streets to preach and warn of God’s wrath. The people’s answer? “What have we done wrong?” They knew that their fathers had killed prophets. They knew that their fathers had served other gods. But they couldn’t be to blame. How could God be angry with them? After all, they did go to church. They did perform sacrifices. They were innocent, or so they thought. God’s word was damning: “…ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imaginations of his evil heart.” In God’s mind, their sins were worse. And their sin was that of the heart. Later on the Lord reminds us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart…”
This morning I am reminded of the importance of my heart’s condition before God. The Lord makes a big deal about our heart – the seat of our emotions, imaginations, motives, and ultimately, decisions in life. And yet it’s naturally wicked. It’s naturally deceitful. It naturally breeds and ruminates on wrong imaginations. If my heart will be pure before the Lord, I’m reminded that it’s going to take work. Three things come to mind:
- I must guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23). There are so many things and people calling for my heart, and seeking to invade it.I must guard against pride, evil imaginations, wrong motives, and more. I must keep it, guard it with ALL diligence.
- I must examine my heart with the Lord’s help (Ps 139:23) – My heart needs constant examination. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been saved, I need a “heart check”. And because the Bible says “who can know it”, I need the Lord’s help in this area.
- I must guide my heart (Proverbs 23:19) – We hear a lot of preaching on guarding our hearts. But the Bible also admonishes us to “guide thine heart in the way”. From the time our children are young, Disney and Hollywood tell them to “follow your heart”. I can’t think of worse life advice. Mainstream society teaches this antibiblical philosophy from kindergarten through adulthood. I am to guide my heart in God’s way. My heart will say one thing, but the Bible will say another. My heart will say one thing, but the Holy Spirit will say another. This is when it’s important to guide my heart in the ways of the Lord – correcting it as it tries to stray toward another path – which it naturally does.
Might I, and my family, keep right hearts before the Lord, starting today by asking “Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts.”
Other notable verses from this morning’s reading. Not politicians. Not police. Not wealth. But ultimately our trust must be in the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.