Memo 1110: Your Heart Matters
Let's continue to examine David's life for principles we can apply to our own in order to live what Jesus called the abundant life. The principles we identify I have labeled PowerPoints for Living and this week we stay in the psalms:
The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips (Psalm 21:1-2).
David mentioned that God granted him the desires of his heart, a concept which he extended to others in Psalm 37:
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:3-4).
The desires of the heart. What does this mean? How is this possible? Can the heart be trusted? Is this a grab bag of goodies that are available to any and all who call on His name? That's a lot of questions, so we had better get busy finding some answers. Let's get started
I regularly hear a comment or read something that warns us to be careful when it comes to our heart. We're reminded that the heart is wicked and evil and not to be trusted. The reason for this precaution is found in Jeremiah 17:9, where the Lord said to the prophet, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Who can argue with that? We have enough life experience to know that doing what's in one's heart has brought and can bring long-term negative consequences. We heed the warning and thus don't trust what's in us, requesting and demanding confirmation after confirmation before we will even begin to trust or listen to what our heart may be telling us.
The problem with all this is that we heed the warning in Jeremiah 17:9 without moving on to the next verse, where the Lord answered His own question: "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve" (Jeremiah 17:10). It would seem from the context that God evaluates our heart matters and they can't all be evil, otherwise there would be nothing to reward. God could have said, "I'm going to punish all deeds that emanate from your heart, which is evil and beyond hope." That isn't what He said.
Then we read what David wrote in Psalms 21 and 37. It seems from those verses that there is some remnant of hope for our heart, but how can we know when to trust it? The key is not to stop at what Jeremiah 17:9 says, but to read what else the Lord had to say that pertains to the heart.
A NEW HEART
The Lord promised He would do a new thing in our hearts when He introduced a new covenant:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
It seems that God promised to override the operating system of our old heart with a new script, new code if you think in computer terminology. Therefore, some things in our hearts may be good, recorded there in God's own handwriting, but that still may mean that we have an old wineskin of a heart and Jesus said new wine can't go into an old wineskin or the skin will burst. God took care of that problem as explained to the prophet Ezekiel:
“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezekiel 36:24-26).
A NEW COVENANT
So God promised a new covenant, the terms of which He would write on our hearts, and promised a new heart that would not be made of stone but of flesh. This new heart was not given to Israel in the context of the Law and Temple, but was done in the power of the Spirit made possible by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. If all this is true and has happened, then we can certainly trust our new heart and what's in it because we can trust its creator, shepherd, surgeon, and counselor.
The Lord is the one who works in our hearts and I am learning to trust the God of my heart and consequently the desires of my heart. If it's on my heart to write, I write. If it's on my heart to go, I go. If it's on my heart to help, I help. If it's on my heart to give, I give. God isn't trying to trick me and the old heart that still shows up every now is being gradually reformed and overwritten with love messages and directives from the Lord.
Therefore, your PowerPoint for Living in this week's context is as follows:
Living the abundant life involves learning to trust the God of your heart, the One who is reshaping and remolding it through the power of the Spirit. Learn to follow your heart as well as you head, for God is guiding its desires and overseeing its expression.
In the abundant life, your heart matters. David learned to expect his heart matters to be fulfilled and you can too, but only if you accept the fact that some of what you have been taught about the heart is misguided. Truth is, your heart can't be trusted but the God of your heart can be. Have a blessed week!