“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them”- Jesus (Matthew 15:16-18)
Here’s the thing: our hearts are deceitful. As hard as it is to hear that, us humans can be an emotional wreck, and if we’re honest- it’s usually because we choose to follow the emotions and feelings over truth. I lived out years of following my heart and trusting my own ways, and yet every single time I was led astray and came up with disappointment. My heart has led me into the wrong relationships, the wrong jobs, the wrong places, the wrong friendships, and honestly- it has convinced me at times to pass some of the harshest judgements on people (I mean, who do I think I am?). It has played with my emotions causing my thoughts to run wild causing me to play out scenarios in my head against people that don’t even exist. It has withheld forgiveness against people poisoning my own heart with anger and hate that ought not to exist. Does this all sound familiar to you? It should because the heart is deceitful.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
So if the heart is that deceitful, then what?
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
You’ll often hear a Believer or the faith community use the term “God put on my heart…”; Jesus is the only answer to your heart. I know, I know; it sounds SO cheesy (and believe me, I cringe at old school “Christian talk”). However, I really don’t have a better or wittier line for you- it’s just that simple. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Here’s the thing, God knows us better than we know ourselves- He created us and wants nothing more than a relationship with us. We live in a fallen world and we have a wild, emotional heart, and are imperfect human beings. Regardless of these flaws, God wants to protect His children from the very things that will cause us pain and hurt us. While decisions out of our hearts, without God, may seem good in the beginning- as they always do- but eventually they fail and hurt us, and we are left with consequences of our own choices. Don’t worry, I’m guilty as charged more times than not.
So we renew our minds on God’s word and we follow Jesus who gives us the desires of our hearts; the true desires. The desires that will ultimately bring us joy, freedom, peace, and the rest of the fruits of the spirit- the desires that we truly long for in which the world can’t give us. It is then we can forgive those who have offended us and who may show zero remorse, but yet it frees us from bitterness and heart poison. It is then we can begin to truly love our neighbor; those we disagree with, and who look, think, believe, and act differently than us- we serve them instead of debate them. It is then our selfless acts and good deeds are done purely for others rather than for temporary praise to receive a moment of validation that will wear off by the end of the day. By no means, do I want to say that we become perfect because Believers are surely as imperfect as anyone else and we still have our bad days and moments- more than not.
In the quote above, Jesus was speaking to the disciples regarding his conversation with the Pharisees (teachers and “experts” of the law). The Pharisees questioned and criticized Jesus and the disciples for breaking one of the religious traditions (the washing of the hands before eating). While their religious acts “looked good”, he was constantly exposing their hearts for what they truly were. He knew their hearts were deceiving- full of greed and their religiosity meant nothing to him because they constantly missed the heart of God. Jesus is after our hearts; not our behavior.