Stuart United Methodist Church
“It’s A Heart Issue”, Jeremiah 17: 1-10
The heart is a very important muscle, right? It is the organ that pushes the life giving blood throughout the body. I find it interesting that our emotions can directly affect our heart. When we think about love we often relate it to our emotional attractions (feelings), yet we know that love is so much more than feelings and emotions. Since there is this strong connection between the physical and the emotional when we think about love we often picture it and express it with a heart. Example: You feel strongly for someone, and you say, “I give you all of my heart” or “He or she is my sweetheart.” You lose someone and you say, “I am heartbroken,” or “my heart aches.”
In this text from Jeremiah, we see God’s prophet confronting Judea with a message of God’s heartache over their imminent doom because of their heart condition. When the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments speak about the heart, it never means your physical heart or your emotions. It is speaking about at least these three things the Mind, the Emotion, and the Will. 1) The Mind – the mental aptitude to know, to understand and respond to our surroundings. 2) The Emotion – the connection between humanity and God. 3) The Will – what we desire to do with what we understand. All three together makes up what we might call our spiritual connection to God. This passage speaks about the spiritual heart. So, I ask you, “How is your heart? How is your connection with God?” For the people in Jeremiah’s day, their heart condition wasn’t good. They were a proud, arrogant, and self-reliant people who had turned their backs on God and went their own way. Sound familiar?
A little background is helpful. The Northern kingdom had fallen and been carried off. The Southern kingdom, Judah, thought they were special. They thought that they were better. But the truth is they were living in sin just as openly as the northern kingdom had. What was their sin? Idolatry. The people of Judah were worshipping idols. They still worshipped God, but it wasn’t a heartfelt worship. It was more of just doing what they had always done and at the same time worshiping their many other gods that they had put in front of the True and Living God. Are we any different? Are there things that we worship over and above the true living God? Is there anything that we deem more important than the love for God such as Job – Family – Entertainment – sports – etc.? You see, our sin can be as simple as turning away from our true love – God!
Now get this, they were teaching their children to do the same thing. While adults knew the commandments, it didn’t matter! Their emotions and their will overtook their wisdom. They had heard the teachings and preaching of the prophets, and they had heard the cry of Jeremiah, but they just tuned them out. So, Jeremiah tells them that God is going to write it down. And where does God write this Judgment? It is written on their hearts using “an iron pen; with a diamond point” because their hearts were hard as stone (vs. 1). In other words, their sins will be held against them. Is that us? Have we become hard hearted?
When people see us in daily life, they will see our heart. What is your heart condition? Does your living reflect a good or an evil heart? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What is God going to write on our hearts? Will it be good or bad news? For the people of Judah, it wasn’t good news. God tells them in verse 3 that everything that they trusted in their “wealth” and their “treasures” will be given “for the price of your sin.” God tells them that they broke the covenant, and that they will lose everything they trusted in and they will be slaves for “enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever” (4).
These people were trusting in mortals, in mere humans who have no real strength, instead of trusting in God who is all in all. When we trust in people, we will be disappointed. They were trusting in their own strength and their own wisdom rather than that of God. So, God says they will be cursed like a plant in a desert barely alive struggling to survive. That was the curse, but with God there is justice, there is deliverance, and there is mercy for the one who trusts not in themselves but in God (see vss. 7-8).
Often, we have the tendency to trust in ourselves and others such as groups, political parties, governments, etc. The world will say, “Trust in yourself and how you feel. Just trust your heart. If you follow your heart, it can’t be wrong.” But what does God say? It’s right here in verse 9, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?” We have a heart issue. Our hearts are corrupt, and full of evil. They are hard as stone. God knows our heart condition and that we need a heart transplant and God can do it. In verse 10 He says that He “test[s] the mind and search[es] the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings.”
How is your heart today? Trust in the Lord God!