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Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Deceptive Heart

"Again, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments and be holy for your God'" (Numbers 15:37-40).

Have you ever tied a string around your finger to help you remember to do something? A piece of string may have no connection whatsoever to what we need to remember; however, a simple recognition of the string reminds us of something important we need to accomplish. Our string-around-the-finger reminder is probably a modern-day version of the tassel sewn onto a garment. But the children of Israel had a much more significant and important task to remember than a daily errand: they were to remember all of God's commandments and to do them.

The reason the Israelites needed a reminder is so that they wouldn't do what they were "inclined to do." In other words, man tends to do what he wants to do while forsaking what God has asked him to do. We see examples of this every day, sometimes in our own lives. God also tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart represents our emotions. Emotionalism is not a reliable guide. We cannot trust our emotions to do what's right because feelings are deceptive. I remember when gospel singer Amy Grant divorced her first husband. She claimed that although she knows "the heart is deceitful above all things," she just knew that God had released her from her marriage. Amy relied on her emotions rather than God's word to decide whether or not she had a right to divorce her husband, and, as best as I know, she reached the wrong conclusion.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25). When man relies on his emotions, the way "seems" right but often is not. Instead, we are blessed if we trust and hope in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7). Today, we have God's word to remind us of His will and to encourage us to follow His way and not our own. "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).