I’ve been talking about the deceitful heart, and guarding your heart. Today I want to talk a little about how to guard our hearts. I think that the key is to first realize that our hearts are deceitful, and to not just “follow our hearts.” And second, to see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Sometimes it’s not easy to accept that our hearts are deceitful. After all, men first deceive themselves, before they attempt to deceive others. How many times have you recognized someone was trying to deceive you, yet it seemed they actually believed the lies they were telling?
I found today that there is a 2004 movie, with Peter Fonda, titled “The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.” And the title is a direct quote of Jer. 17:9. The movie is about a teenage mother, a drug addict and prostitute, whose 7 year old son is sexually abused and raped by her boyfriend. Here is an image of a poster for the movie.Then, I found that there was a contest in 2006 for Mother’s Day, related to the movie, for the best card for The Heart is Deceitful Mother’s Day. Here is the third place winner, by KellyGirl1, who based it on the description of the movie and a show about drug abuse through history (image used with permission of Kelly Stouffer, original image is here):Now my premise for this blog is that we all want Good Love, and that with work, through gratitude and encouragement, we can turn Good Love into Better Love. But God’s Love, demonstrated through Christ, is the example I think of for Best Love. There is one more example of Best Love for me: the love of a mother for her children. We think that even in the animal kingdom, mothers are very protective of their little ones. But it is only human mothers that are real givers. They give not only love and protection, they are willing to forgive, beyond human logic, as modeled by the forgiveness God offers us all.
So what prompted Jeremiah’s observation that the heart is deceitful? God had given him a message of dismay and destruction for Israel, but the people didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want any bad news. They just wanted to do what they wanted, and assumed that there would be no consequences. In fact, after telling Jeremiah that the people are headed for destruction, the Lord tells him how to answer when they ask, “Why has the Lord God done this to us?” Part of what he is to say is, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (Jer 5:21)
We know that the heart was considered the seat of emotions, passions, and appetites. It is the center of our vital actions. The ancient Egyptians discarded the brain as useless, but preserved the heart for the afterlife. We must guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23), and we do this by hearing and seeing examples of wisdom, and following them rather than following the deceit of our hearts. We want to feel happy, and right now. But where should we look, if we can’t trust our own heart?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. So we need a relationship with the Lord, and to seek wisdom from him, through the Bible and prayer, to really see and hear the truth. In Matt 13, Christ says “He who has ears, let him hear,” as he finishes a parable. And when He is asked why he speaks in parables, he quotes Isaiah: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
We must not trust our own hearts, we must truly see, and we must truly hear. Our goal should not be to strive to be happy, but to see and hear, and choose straight paths. And if we choose the straight path, we will be happy. And even more importantly, we will be happy for the long term, without being filled with regrets later. What paths will you choose?