The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
Jeremiah is talking about how we try to rationalize away our sins. He is speaking of man’s heart. A heart that is filled with worldly desires. A heart that he talks about in Jeremiah 17:5:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
A heart that trust man, one that draws strength from flesh. A heart that is filled with desires of the flesh cannot be filled with the Lord.
In Jeremiah 17:6, Jeremiah tells us of the consequences of a heart that has turned from God.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
A heart filled with desires of the flesh shall dwell in a wasteland. He says it will not see prosperity when it comes. It may see numerous worldly rewards, but when the true prosperity of God presents itself to this heart, it will be blinded by its own worldly desires. It will miss the salvation lying at its feet.
In verses 7 and 8, Jeremiah tells us of the consequences of a heart that has made room for God and let God in.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
With the Lord in your heart you will find the ever flowing stream of life. You will know that which feeds your soul. You will never hunger and you will produce. You will be all you can be.
This brings us back to verse 9 at the beginning of this piece. Jeremiah is instructing us to be ever diligent with our heart and to always be making more room for God. The heart can be deceitful, we all possess good and evil. We must always keep watch over our hearts.
Finally in Jeremiah 17:10, we are told who is the only one who can truly evaluate our hearts.
“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
God searches each of our hearts, justly and truthfully. By letting God into our hearts we can do the same. But be careful, for the heart of man can be deceitful and without God in your heart there is no cure for the deceitful heart. The nature of man is the path of least resistance. Having God in your heart is a never ending endeavor.
In the last half of verse 10, Jeremiah speaks about the balance of the universe, “to give every man according to his ways”.
The rewards of God are not based on the expectations of the deceitful heart of man. God will divvy them out and keep the balance of the universe.
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