"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14, ESV).
Common pop “wisdom” found in romantic comedies and song lyrics declares, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Often the sentiment is employed to excuse impulsive and questionable behavior. While this could be as mundane as indulging in too much chocolate or buying a car one can’t afford, it’s often related to imprudent relationship choices.
The implication is that our desires erupt within us unbidden, uncontrollable, and must be answered no matter what. In other words, we have no choice but to act on these impulses. Not following these random passions is considered unthinkable because, you know, “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
What’s truly unthinkable is believing that our desires are not based on our choices. Otherwise, why would scripture warn us in Proverbs 4:23 to “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT)?
In fact, Jesus cautioned that “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19, ESV).
How do all these things get into our hearts and minds? We put them there.
Desires grow based on what our heart and mind are fed. If we treasure greed, lust, power, darkness, and avarice in our hearts, from these treasures our desires will grow.
Popular songs and advice encourage us to just follow or listen to the heart. But Scripture counters with the caution, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 18:9).
What are we to do? Like Paul, we want to cry out, “Wretched [person] that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)!
It comes down to what we treasure in our hearts. Or, as Paul examples, “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being...” (Romans 7:22).
Going back to Jeremiah and adding context to the incurable deceitful heart reality, the solution becomes clear: “’But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He 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.’”(Jeremiah 17:7-8).
To ensure our hearts want the right things in the first place, we need to place our trust solidly in the Lord. We need to feed our hearts on the deep truths of God’s word. It is through treasuring and rooting ourselves in the words God has spoken -- the Bible -- that our hearts can become healthy and a little more trustworthy.
When computer programs go awry it’s often due to bad code, bad input. The programmer’s mantra is, “garbage in, garbage out,” meaning that if someone botched the code to begin with, then the program will deliver untrustworthy results.
The same is true with how we program our hearts and minds. If we input garbage in, we will output faulty results. On the other hand, if we treasure in our hearts love, peace, generosity, selflessness, compassion, grace, and the like, the results will be more of the same.
It’s just as Paul explains, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6).
What are you inputting into you?
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