Matters of the Heart

I have heard it said “What you find depends on what you’re looking for” although I am not certain of the true origin of this phrase I am certain of there being a degree of truth in it. If you never have a dream or desire for something it is safe to say you will find exactly what you’re looking for “nothing”. Without dreams, and desires, we wouldn’t accomplish much in life. Your desires not only help determine the direction of your life, but they also help to reveal your motives, motivations, and priorities.

Even God has desires. As Paul explains in his letter to Timothy, in 1 Timothy 2:1-5 he provides instruction that prayer should be made for all because God desires it, in verses 3-4 Paul says “…it is good and acceptable in the sight of God…” He goes on to say “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”. God desires for all to be saved- because it is in accordance with his nature, and because he has made abundant provision for our salvation and our happiness.

Among Christians, we often quote or hear quoted a popular verse from Psalm 37, in that 4th verse the psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart”. Can we really expect God to deliver whatever we want, whenever we want it? Jesus answers this question for us in Matthew 15:19 He says “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”. And then in Mark 7:20-23 He says “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’”. In these passages, Jesus reveals the catalyst of our wants, our fleshly desires come from our innermost being. Sin does not only come about as a result of outside forces. It is birthed from those little hidden niches residing in our thoughts and intentions, from those secret desires which only the human mind and heart can imagine. The reality is quite simple, in our fallen state, the desires of our hearts do not come from or line up with God. In Jeremiah 17:9 – Jeremiah describes the nature of man’s heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” While it’s true that God cares about our innermost desires, we first need His intervention to shape those desires.

God delights in and will give us our heart’s desires, but this only happens when we’re aligned with His will. Although he desires all be saved, safe, and happy he does not exert his absolute power to make it happen, man must choose to accept His offer of salvation. When we commit our way to God, we learn to enjoy Him for who He is, we begin to allow our thoughts, goals, and lifestyle to be shaped by His will and the things He loves. In other words, our self-focused wants are replaced by His perfect will and purpose for us when we acknowledge His right to determine whether our longing fits His plan. When our desires align with our Father’s plan only then will He fulfill them.

We are not equipped to take matters into our own hands. The human heart is corrupt and deceitful at best and our motives are unclear even to ourselves. As sinful creatures we devise and create evil things in the arrogance and self-sufficiency of our hearts -Proverbs 16:30; Psalm 35:20; Micah 2:1; Romans 1:30. The truth is this, only God can examine our deepest motives and inward desires and only by His power can we ever hope to untangle the uncertainty and depravity that is bound up within our hearts. He alone searches all and knows us intimately – Hebrews 4:11-13.

In Psalm 37:5-6 the Psalmist says to: “… Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun”. When you commit to God He replaces the evil with good and sets your heart on the path toward Him, removing your desires and replacing them with His. He literally plants His own desires into your heart, the heart that, without Him, is desperately wicked and deceitful. Then our desires become His desires, our wills seek to do His will, and our rebellion turns to joyous obedience. However, this will only happen when you come to Him in repentance and accept His gift of salvation through Jesus.

There are sadly many today who remain self-assured in that a lifetime of Biblical study, church attendance, devotional reading, and even theological education would amass the necessary love and reverence for God. If I may suggest caution at all times for us all, we all should walk a bit more gingerly, keeping in mind the Pharisees whom Jesus denounced in Matthew 15:8, when He says “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Although we continue to pray, study, read and learn, we all must always be careful to examine and recognize our own heart as nothing more than a cesspool of waste desperately in need of purging.

God’s Peace!

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