Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Becoming a Steward: of my heart.

Follow your heart.  Oh, boy, have I.  My heart has led me on many adventures, some that I wish I could forget.  I followed my heart in high school when it said to fall in love.  I followed my heart after high school when it said my deepest desire was to become a mathematician....a actress....a preacher....a accountant.  Attend university after university, college after college.  I followed my heart when it said to get a job and make money, when it said to save money, when it said to invest money, spend money,  give money away.  I followed my heart when it told me to follow Jesus, when it told me to forget Jesus and follow myself.  Good grief, I have followed my heart all over the place!

People who say "follow your heart" do so because they are under the impression that somehow the heart knows what is best.  If you follow your heart, it will always lead you to the right place, at the right time, and do what is best for you.  WRONG.

"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds."
          ~Jeremiah 17:9-10

Now, if you are a Christ-follower or are Jewish, you read these quoted words and already believe they speak Truth, because you have faith that these words are inspired and inerrant.  If you do not follow Christ or are not Jewish, I would simply challenge you to consider these words pulled from a remarkable book of literature, penned by a man of great insight into the soul.  A man who was persecuted heavily for the predictions he made, for the observations he shared about people.  A man who spent a great deal of his life investing in people, getting to know their hearts and experiencing first hand the cruel and vicious things the heart can do when one allows it to control him.  You could say Jeremiah was a heart expert.  So we may think of him as somewhat of an expert on the matter.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Who can understand it?

Did you catch that?  The heart is desperately sick.  It has cancer.  It is infected.  It is more deceitful than anything else.  It can't be trusted.  You can't even understand the heart.

I wish I would have understood this principle at age 12, you know, before I started to follow my heart into some of the darkest places I can imagine.  Before I started to trust my heart.  Before I "gave my heart away" to so many people only to have it trampled underfoot and spat on.  Before I took advantage of the hearts of so many people who entrusted themselves to me.

But I can't undo the past and neither can you.  And before I continue to say anything annoying and cliché about the future being what we make it, let me say this.  I follow the Bible as my guide to life, it has influence on every decision I make, every belief that I hold to be true.  I'm fairly certain that even if I didn't believe it contained the very essence of who God is, I would still use it as a guide for my life.  Why?  I eventually decided to be a learner, a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, because after I started reading His Word, it helped me to change around my life, something no other medium has been able to do.  The Bible saved my life, long before its Christ saved my soul.

My life began to change months before the Holy Spirit buried my old, wicked, disgusting, perverted me and gave to me a new life at my baptism (Romans 6:4).  I started being a more wise person.  I started making better decisions.  I started treating people with kindness, being genuine, being honest, being sober and sober-minded.  I enjoyed life more when I started listening and believing the words in Scripture, long before I believed they were Scripture.  I share this only because I really want you to hear this last part before I say it, and not dismiss my conclusion simply because you may or may not believe in the teachings of "The Bible."  It can and does transform lives regardless if you read it as the Word of God or as the words of men.

The Bible did for me exactly what it said it would do.  It transformed me into a new person by changing the way I think (Romans 12:2).   It changed the way I thought about my heart, about the heart of man.  It opened my eyes to conisider the possibility that perhaps we are not designed to follow our hearts.  My past was a great example of how much pain and misery can happen when we do.  Perhaps we perform best, we feel best, we are best when we lead our hearts....make our hearts follow us.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Who can understand it?

If you happen to make the decision that I once made to stop trusting your heart and recognizing it for what it is--a follower, then what must you do?  I have been told that in order to break an old habit you must replace it with something new.  So I will leave you with a trusty piece of advice from the New Testament on how to become a good steward of your heart by changing your mind.  No pun intended ;)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 
          ~Philippians 4:8

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