Who Knows the Fickle Heart?

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

“I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:9, 10.

The LORD calls our hearts “deceitful and beyond cure” as a means of setting up His next question:  “Who can understand it?”, one He answers in the very next sentence.  He searches the heart and mind for the truth of who we are behind our masks of self-righteousness or social normality.  He sees in to the depths of who we are and knows us despite our claims to the contrary.  Many times we fix our inner eyes on an image of who we want to be rather than acknowledging or even recognizing who we really are.  That very choice or attitude sets us up for self-deception and quite a bit of heartache.

I guess what caught my attention here was the fact God focused on the heart and mind then told us He rewarded us according to our conduct.  Putting those two areas together—thought as a form of action—seemed kind of incongruous to me because I’ve always separated them.  But if He searches our hearts and minds to reward us according to our deeds, then our thoughts and motives are weighed as actions not mere phantoms of thought.  This tells me Jesus wasn’t the first of the prophets to declare the thoughts of our hearts as subject to judgment, which means it has never just been about external actions with God but what motivates them.

The only one who can sort through our psyche and understand it at all is God.  We don’t seem to grasp our own make up.  I’ve watched the trends in psychology only about 30 years now (since I took nursing and caught the bug for it) and I must say that the changes in our methods or theories has changed, while not drastically, pretty constantly.  It’s almost as if we can point to the number of schools teaching psychology which exist as equal the amount of theories on the subject.  I know that’s not accurate, but it seems to me the means of grappling with the human mind vary widely and depend on the background or political leanings of those doing the research.  In other words, bias seems to be rampant in the interpretation of the facts or pseudo facts available.

I believe only God has the ability to sort the real from fake, the truth from fantasy, the fact from fiction.  Humans, as a general rule, hate the idea of sin—the very notion sets some people’s feet itching to run and others it simply ignites a fire under their desire to exterminate all proponents of the subject.  The more I study the Bible, Its stories and teachings, and human nature with its fickle-hearted attempts at reason, peace and prosperity, the more convinced I become sin is the only plausible explanation for what’s thrown a monkey wrench into the machinations of human relationships.

It almost seems too easy to explain away our penchant for self-destruction, domination of others and wholesale sense of privilege.  I know I’m sounding cynical, but it truly is more about being realistic in regards to human history.  We’re fascinated by the  macabre, obsessed with youth and most of us boarder on becoming hoarders to one degree or another.  Our fear of the future drives our need to accumulate, while our sense of self-importance (that which makes our needs more valuable than someone else’s) drives us to greed, positions of power and, for most, a sense of futile hopelessness that we will never get more than a taste of the good life.

Dog eat dog describes much of the business world.  Very rarely will I see a business that works for the welfare of others.  Usually competition takes us in the direction of eliminating any threat to our income, which then directs our efforts to stomp out those who would keep us from being top dog.  This attitude, of course, isn’t limited to businesses since I’ve seen charities and churches of all religions do it to other organizations within their own sphere of work.

Our sense of what is wicked and what is merely kinda’ bad differs from God’s version quite a bit.  We see the punishment for Adam’s sin of eating the fruit as almost over the top, God sees it as wickedness in action.  Our version points out those who spend their time in evil pursuits such as murder, embezzlement, rape, kidnapping, you know, everything we see in action movies.  God’s version of wicked points towards an attitude of the heart which separates us from Him.  In other words, if we feel the need to hide our motives or actions from Him, we stand convicted of wickedness.  Anything that goes against God’s character is wicked, evil and sinful.

I know those who try to separate the words down to different meanings, but the verse above comes right on the heels of the contrast between righteousness and sin.  Trust in ourselves (man) is rejection of God.  The act of rejecting God for something or someone else is evil, wickedness and sin.   Jesus claimed the pagans ran after money, clothing and food and water in their lost condition for they worried about all these things.  We, as His disciples, weren’t to worry about any of them.  Jeremiah 17 takes us a step further by making it a wicked act period to depend on humans for our answers.

God searches the heart and minds of those who claim to serve Him.  I won’t be afraid of this because I know I’m a sinner saved by His grace.  Yet, neither will I deny that I have fears which exclude Him as the solution.  I crave solutions to various situations and will grasp sometimes at almost anything to find an answer which gets me out of them.  God wants us to rely on Him—even when it seems there’s nothing but pain in the forecast.  Our attitude must reflect that of Job,  “Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him!”

The promise made to those who depend on God for everything is peace, supply and hope in the worst times imaginable because we are connected to the source of life.

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One Response to “Who Knows the Fickle Heart?”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    This is a timely word for me. Action vs. Motive. We know what we do but He knows why we do them.

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