Certain phrases just stick with you. These are the ones that you hear in a sermon or read in a book that just linger in your mind for days and even months after you first encounter them.
“The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this verse preached over the years. But, a few weeks ago, when I heard it again, I had a different reaction than I have had in years past. The pastor was describing a graduation speech in which the valedictorian encouraged the listeners to “Follow your heart.” Immediately the pastor began ripping into this idea, using this verse as his primary text to refute it. Typically I would be nodding along, in full agreement with his statements. But this time I found myself wondering what the church’s demonization of the heart has led to over the years.
Has the use of this verse led to people to avoid caring for the heart that God so deeply cares for?
Now, I completely agree with this verse because God says it. And if he says it, I’m going to trust that it’s true. My heart apart from Christ was definitely not to be trusted. It was hurting and full of hatred and bitterness. I was not a kind or pleasant person. I was angry and unfeeling and had no desire to do good for myself or others. My heart was sick apart from Christ. My heart, when left to its own devices, ends up mismanaged and beaten up.
But that’s the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice.
God looked at our deceitful hearts and said: “I want those because I love them.” It was that love that led him to action. Romans 5 tells us that he died for us while we were still enemies of God. We were buried under a mountain of sin and death of our own making, and he launched the most incredible rescue mission in the history of the world. He truly is an incredible God!
So what should we do with our hearts?
My go-to answer is: ignore and avoid. In fact, my M.O. is neglecting my heart. I spent years numbing my heart and suppressing my emotions because if I couldn’t feel anything, then I couldn’t feel pain. If I didn’t experience emotions, then no one would know if they hurt me. And I thought I was fine. Even after I accepted Christ, I still thought that my heart was terrible and not to be trusted and I used this verse to justify my ignoring my heart.
But I’ve come to learn that neglecting my heart is never the best option. When we neglect anything in this world, it never becomes better, it only degrades and deteriorates. Our hearts will never, if we ignore them, want to pursue God. Neglect will only lead to more damage and death.
Instead of neglecting our hearts, writing them off as deceitful and not to be trusted, let’s inform our hearts to conform them to Christ!
What would it look like if we took the time to check in with our hearts on a regular basis? What if we had the courage to examine the emotions that drive us?
Honestly, I think it would do us a lot of good. We can’t inform our hearts until we know what’s currently in there. We can’t uproot lies if we haven’t taken stock of what’s currently in there.
If our hearts are deceitful, let’s fill them with the truth.
If our hearts are hard, let’s soften them with love.
If our hearts are hurting, let’s let God heal them.
I encourage you to set aside some time this week to examine your heart, uproot lies, and fill it with Truth. Meditate on God’s word (Romans 12:1-2), implant it in your heart (James 1:21), and see how your world begins to change.
How are you intentionally informing your heart?
Sarah is an entrepreneur and published author, currently living in Dallas, Texas. Her dreams include founding businesses, giving strategically, and sharing art with the world. And her life motto is: Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.
You can find more of her writing on her blog or connect with her on social media.