I have been sharing with you about the importance of the heart and having a heart that honors and glorifies God. We have learned that the heart is the center of who we are and we are to love God with all of our heart. We must also make sure that our deeds of righteousness are done with a heart that seeks to honor God and not be praised by people. However, there is one big problem: we constantly deceive ourselves into thinking that our heart is in the right place or that it has the right motive when in fact the opposite might be true.
Let’s look at what Jeremiah 17:9–10 says: “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.”
What does the text mean?
In the context the Lord rebukes the kingdom of Judah for all the sin of the people. Ultimately, what Judah had done is that they had trusted man more than they had trusted God. Thus, the Lord explains what a man that trusts man looks like, followed by an explanation of what a man that trusts God is. Then in verse 9 he tells them that that the heart is deceitful and wicked. Therefore, what he is trying to teach us is that sometimes our heart thinks it is trusting God and glorifying him when in fact the opposite is true. Does that ever happen to you? It certainly happens to me.
Our heart is deceitful; it constantly lies to us. Our heart presents to us idols as the key to happiness, even sometimes the idol of religion. It tells you that you should be true to your heart when the Lord tells you that you should trust him. Therefore, God wanted his people to understand that he knows our motives and heart better than you and me; he is the only one that can search the depths of our hearts.
Sadly, our heart is also desperately wicked. Many people have ruined their lives and have been led to destruction because they “followed their hearts”. They never trusted the Lord and never checked their hearts in the mirror of God’s Word; they thought that their motives were pure and holy, when in fact they were trusting man and trusting their own wicked heart. Therefore, to follow our hearts is the worst advise you can give someone, on the contrary, to trust God and his Word is the best thing you can do if you do not want to end up like the people of Judah. That is why God says “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind”. He knows you better than you know yourself so you must trust that God’s assessment of your heart and its intentions is better and more accurate than yours.
What does it mean to me?
I believe that the question you must ask yourself is “Am I following my heart or am I trusting God?” You will constantly hear the world telling you something like “trust your heart” or “follow your heart”, but God tells you “trust in me”, “follow me and my Word”. At times, we also think that we have pure motives because in theory, what we want looks nice and holy, but our heart desires other things like self-promotion, self-indulgence, self-gratification and self-praise. In fact, at times it is not that we do not want to love and serve Jesus, it’s just that we want to serve and honor ourselves more and our heart deceives us into thinking it is Jesus whom we are really serving and honoring.
So are you following your heart or are you trusting the Lord? I would encourage you to repeatedly pray the following prayer today with a sincere heart: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24).
May the Lord speak to you today.