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  • Rev. Franklin Ruff

The Danger of The Heart

I am a certified practitioner of the Mayers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  In the MBTI personality type theory, the personality is expressed through four dichotomies.  These dichotomies examine how one gains their energy, how one takes in information, and how one orders their world.  The dichotomies also examine how one makes decisions.  On one side of the decision-making, spectrum is the Thinkers.  The Thinker is most concerned with objective principles when making decisions, they generally make their decisions based on rational, logical, examination of facts.  The Thinker looks for the basic principle that should be applied, regardless of the specific situation involved.  For the Thinker, it is important to be consistent and logical when making decisions.  On the other side of the decision-making, spectrum is the feelers who generally make their decisions by examining the facts through the prism of emotions and personal values.  The Feeler considers the different points-of-view of people involved in the situation.  They want to maintain harmony and thus they tend to be concerned with values and what is best for the people involved.  While people prefer one type of decision making over the other Thinkers do use feeling sometimes and Feelers do use thinking sometimes.

Today we are going to talk about the dangers of the heart.  Jerimiah 17: 5-10 address the fact that the heart is dangerous. It tells us that the heart is sick, it is beyond cure and it cannot be trusted. Let’s look at the text.

5 This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.  They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jerimiah 17:5-10 NIV)

When one sees a statement such as the danger of the heart one might assume that this is a statement that a thinker would agree with.  With our current understanding of the heart as the metaphorical seat of emotion, it is easy to understand why a Thinker would agree with this statement.  Let’s examine the current definition of the heart.

Current Definition

The center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion

With our current understanding of the heart, it is easy to see how the Thinker might think that they are off the hook.  A discussion about the dangers of the heart is obviously something that Feelers need to wrestle with, however; if one is going to truly attempt to examine what is being said in the text about the danger of the heart one must gain a better understanding of how the ancient Jewish person viewed the heart

Hebrew Definition of Heart

In current time we tend to think of that hear as the seat of emotions but in the ancient Hebrew culture, the heart was the seat of emotion, intellect, and spirit.

When the biblical text makes the statement that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” It is not just speaking to the emotions, but it is also speaking to the intellect, and most importantly it speaks to the spirit.  I think that the text wants us to understand that when we do not have a connection to God even those things that we do with good intentions can end badly.  Because of the original sin of Adam in the garden, we have been disconnected from God and our hearts (emotion, intellect, spirit) have been corrupted.  As a part of that corruption we have been fooled into thinking that ultimately, we can trust in humanity to do the right thing.  We can depend on ourselves to be righteous.  These assumptions are false.  I do not doubt that many if not most people want to do good.  I believe that many honestly try to do good, but absent a connection to God we fall short.  The Apostle Paul understood this. In Romans he stats:

18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:18-19)         

Paul understood that humanity had a sinful nature that could only be overcome by a connection to God.  Paul understood that without God the heart is dangerous and incurably corrupted by sin.

While the message that the heat is dangerous and incurably corrupt can be sobering, there is good news in the text. Those who trust in the Lord will be blessed; there corrupted heart will be transformed through a connection to God.  The text uses an example of a tree planted by water.  Water is the source of life for the three, and because the tree is connected to the source of life it need not worry about heat or time of drought.  A Christian is connected to God (the source of life).  Because we are connected to God we can withstand the heat and the drought.  For us, the heat and the drought are the difficult times in life.   Because we are connected to the God we don’t wither and die during times of drought, but we continue to bear fruit.  The history of the church has proven this statement to be true.  During times of great persecution that church has not died, but it has continued to endure, in fact often during times of persecution the church has grown.

An important point that I think God wants us to gain from this text is; don’t follow your heart.  The heart is deceitful, beyond understanding and beyond cure, accept if you trust in God and allow him to lead you. To sum in all up the heart is dangerous.  Don’t follow your heart, let God lead it.

Danger of The Heart Sermon


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