The world says, “follow your heart.” But the Bible has something entirely different to say about the heart. Also read about God’s discipline of His children, godly friendship, and how Paul handled the need to offer constructive criticism.
Jeremiah 13 & 14
1 Thessalonians 1.1-10
Should You Follow Your Heart?
Jeremiah 13 & 14:
Profitable for Nothing
In chapter 13 God used an object lesson to illustrate the filthy spiritual condition of the people. He had the prophet bury a dirty sash (probably an undergarment) in a hole instead of washing it. He was instructed to leave it there until it began to rot. Then in verse 10 God said:
“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.”
Their sin and rebellion had rendered them useless to God!
These people thought since they were God’s people, that they could live any way they wanted. They could “follow the dictates of their own hearts.”
Today, one message the world sends is “follow your heart,” but another passage in Jeremiah says:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jer. 17.9 NLT).
So our wicked hearts tell us we are OK with God because we had some experience, prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, got baptized, or became the member of a certain church. Our ticket to heaven has been punched. So we …
… act selfishly at home with our spouses and children.
… make work or friends or children or a hundred other things a higher priority than our personal relationship with God.
… drink to excess, feel justified in our anger, refuse to forgive, or dozens of other things that God says are sin.
When we do, we, too, become just like Jeremiah’s sash—“profitable for nothing”! We negate our testimonies, especially in the eyes of the people closest to us. “Following our hearts” is our own undoing!
It is true, however, that as we grow in our Christian walk and our faithfulness to obey God’s commandments, He works in our hearts.
Psalm 37.4 says God will give us the desires of our hearts. This verse is often misunderstood to mean God gives us whatever we want. But let’s look at it in context:
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Notice this is not a blank check for anyone who throws a prayer heavenward. It’s when our hearts line up with His desires because we have come to trust Him, cultivated faithfulness, delighted ourselves in and committed our way to Him. In short, because we have matured in our faith and our walk with Him. When we do these things, our hearts will line up more with His.
But, even this is not a guarantee that we will always have right desires, because we still live in these bodies of flesh and our hearts and minds have not been fully renewed. We must constantly submit to the counsel of other godly people, stay in His Word, and live prayerfully before Him. And His Word must be the guiding influence in our lives, not our own hearts.
Today’s Other Readings:
He Disciplines Us for Our Good
Verse 18, “The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”
In Psalm 119, the psalmist said:
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes” (vv. 67-68).
And Psalm 119.75 says, “… in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” When we refuse to do things God’s way, He will discipline us like any loving father. But He does it for our good and not for our harm.
In fact, Hebrews 12.5-11 says:
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Did you see that? “Whom the Lord loves He chastens” and “if you are without chastening … then you are illegitimate and not sons.” God’s discipline in our lives is a sign of His love. His desire is to help us grow to become all that He created us to be! And while no chastening is pleasant, afterwards … there is an afterwards … it leads to the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we allow ourselves to be trained by it!
The Counsel of a Friend
“… the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”
A faithful friend, who is willing to give wise, godly counsel can be used by God in a mighty way.
1 Thessalonians 1.1-10:
Start with Encouragement
Paul is writing, in part, to correct some things, but before addressing any of his concerns he opens his letter with encouragement.
We would be wise to do the same whether with our children or anyone else with whom God has given us influence or called us to correct.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about witchcraft, Halloween and conscience issues, some people’s attitudes about hell, the rapture, and ways to live like we’re expecting Jesus to come back soon, among other things.
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