“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
– Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV)
Yet, the longings of the heart are often deemed the final say in a matter. In a time when self-truth is regularly regarded as more vital than absolute truth, the source of self-truth is never questioned.
With the topic of this month’s articles being on idols, time-wasting activities and tangible things are considerably more “idol-seeming” than the heart. The heart is so close to home that often it’s not really in the mix when attempting to pick out the idols in your life. And that’s extremely dangerous, considering its potency for sin. These heart-sins can be difficult to detect, too. Making decisions that place your priorities before another person’s is a sin that displays serious heart corruption; yet, it happens every day.
The most prominent result of idolizing the heart is self-focus. This, I mean, makes a lot of sense. If you set out to satisfy what you desire above everything else, there’s going to be unsatisfying results.
I feel like the story of David and Bathsheba is one of the most memorable, and violent, examples of this. After realizing that his heart desired to be with Bathsheba, David placed Bathsheba’s then-husband Uriah out in the front of an ongoing siege where he was destined to die. Spoiler: he dies. David indirectly (but intentionally) murdered a man because his heart longed to be with Bathsheba. That’s quite radical. This story powerfully demonstrates the reaching power of the sinful heart and the lasting effects of giving into its hold.
So, with all the sin and corruption that idolizing the heart will bring in mind, how is this sin remedied? One word: focus. If self-focus brings pain and grievance, then a focus on God brings a renewed spiritual zeal and a stronger desire to serve Him. In Hebrews, the mystery author says:
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” – Hebrews 3:1 (NIV)
Even David, who essentially ordered the murder of someone because he gave in to the sinful desires of his heart, proclaims in Psalm 19:14:
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
That’s an amazing testimony. Through this psalm (and the entirety of the book of Psalms), David displays the joy that can be attained when one focuses on God. On the contrary, the result of pursuing the sins of the heart is less than pleasant. As a result of David’s sins with Bathsheba, the Lord sends the prophet Nathan to promptly school David with a well-pointed parable (the entire passage in 2 Samuel 12 is a bit too long for the article, but you should definitely check it out). The punishment from God was as follows:
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight.’” – 2 Samuel 12:11-12 (NIV)
That’s pretty straight-forward. But while that might seem strong, it’s also a strong reminder of how serious the consequences of our sin can be: in this case, sins of the heart. But considering all of this, I hope the underlying message prevails: the importance of focusing on God and denying ourselves cannot be understated.