Affections. We all have them. We all have things that we love that connect to the inner recesses of our hearts. We have desires that go deep. Are all our desires good though? Should we allow our thoughts to run rampant without guidance? Should we accept all the things our hearts tell us to love? Today I want to talk about the danger of chasing after the unbridled affections of our hearts.
As human beings, we were created by God with desires and loves. We were created to have hopes and dreams. To have things that we are passionate about. That’s what makes us human.
For me, I love to write. To take pictures. To talk about and play sports. I love to be around people. To hear their stories, and to tell mine. I love to teach.
I have dreams. Dreams of being married. Having kids. Being a dad. Dreams of making a difference in the lives of others.
Dreams and Affections are great. They are God given. We have to be careful though that everything we think or feel or conjure up in our hearts and minds do not dictate to us a false reality outside of God’s Kingdom.
Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 17:9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
We live in a world that leans heavily on the things of the heart. If we feel a certain way, then this is reality. If we believe a certain thing, then this is fact.
In this culture, we are allowed to be whoever we want to be, and do whatever we want to do. We are made to believe that we are held accountable to nobody. We are not allowed to question other’s “truth”. We are told to follow our hearts.
But what if our hearts, the things that we lean heavily on to make decisions, to plan out our futures, to give us our hopes and dreams, are innately wicked, deceitful, and sick?
This is a difficult reality, and a hard pill to swallow because I’m sure that your thoughts are similar to mine. I’m a pretty good person. I don’t murder. I don’t steal. I don’t commit the “big” sins. How can my heart truly be full of wicked and deceitful thoughts? But outside of Jesus, it is.
Our hearts lie to us. They tell us to chase after things we don’t need in place of things that we do. They tell us that we are the center of our world and that we control our lives, when we don’t. They tell us that our lives can be fulfilled outside of God, in riches, in likes, in friends, when it can’t. It tells us so many things, but it lies.
So if this is our true reality, how can we trust the desires of our hearts? And if we can’t trust our own hearts, where do we put our trust?
Well here’s the bad news: Your heart is not trustworthy. Your desires outside of Jesus are self centered, self motivated, and self loving. This is the truth.
The good news though is this: “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” (Jeremiah 17:10).
While our hearts may be full of deceit and wickedness, and are sick, our Father God knows our hearts. He knows us to our core. He knows what’s best for us. He knows His plans for us. And He wants to change us. To change our hearts. That is the good news of the Gospel.
So how must we respond to this true reality?
We must trust in the God who knows our heart. Who sees us. Who loves us. Fully. He only wants what is best.
Even though God knows best, we act similar to the child who wants to touch a hot stove. Their parent keeps telling them time and time again to stop, and that it will hurt them. They don’t listen though. They want to touch the stove, but they honestly don’t know what the consequences of doing that will be. The parent does. The parent wants to protect the child and keep them from harm.
This is us with God. We have a desire. A desire that burns within us. And we think that we need and want it, but we really don’t know what the consequences of giving into these desires will be. God does. He is guiding us and giving us rules to protect. He wants us to have our best life, and we would, if we would just listen. If we would just trust. If we would just submit. If we stopped clenching our fists and holding onto life so tightly, we might actually live the life that we were meant to live.
Jeremiah points out in Jeremiah 17:5-8 that we have two choices of where to put our trust, and he gives us the consequences of both:
“Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
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” (Jeremiah 17:5-6).
The first place where we can put trust our trust is in ourselves. In our own hearts. Our own desires. This leads to destruction. We are cursed because have chosen to trust in man, make our flesh our strength, and our heart is turned away from the Lord. We are like a shrub in the desert. We have no life source, and we have no stability. Thus, we shall not prosper. We will live life parched, starving, in isolation, for we have exchanged the truths of God for a lie because we have looked for life in places of destruction.
Jeremiah writes about a second reality in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
“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” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
The second place we can put our trust is in the Lord. The man who does this is blessed. This does not mean necessarily physically or earthly riches, but we are blessed because we are known by God. We are like a tree that is planted by streams of water. We have life through Jesus and we are constantly connected to our source of life. We will grow and be continually changed. Through our growth and change, we will be able to extend our source of life to others, and our roots through Jesus will be able to impact the lives of others. Our lives are not marked by fear, or anxiety, because we are stable, supported, and nourished by Jesus. Because of all of this, we will continually bear fruit.
Our desires were created by God for God. They were created to be connected to our relationship with Jesus, and to flow from this union. Apart from Him though, our desires can become wonky. They can become self centered, and self motivated. If we are connected to Jesus, our desires, and our hearts can portray beautiful things. They can bleed and break for what breaks His heart. They can love what He loves, and despise what He despises. Our hearts can become like His if we allow Him to change us to be more like Him.
God in his love will not force us to follow or trust Him. Instead, He gives us a choice. A choice between two paths. The life of trust, or distrust. The life of the shrub or the tree. The life of the nourishment, or the life of the parchment. Which will you choose?