“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Reference: Jeremiah 17:9-10 )
Sometimes I am not really sure how to take these scriptural excerpts. They seem to come across differently just reading them straight, out of context. When you read them in context surrounded by their neighboring verses a different sense comes across. So, what about this one? Is the heart “deceitful”? [A brief survey of translations shows that the word “heart” is used most often, but there are one or two instances where the word “mind” is used instead.) Well, it depends on the heart, and what you mean by “heart.” If you are taking about emotions, as in human emotions all on their own according to will-full human agendas, yes the “heart” is deceitful. But if you are taking about care and compassion, sensitivity and kind regard, no the heart is not “deceitful.”
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible say that “the Lord searches the human heart and renders judgment” so I guess that would mean that the heart may be deceitful . . . or it may not. The writer of Jeremiah qualifies his statement by saying the Lord looks at the heart and mind, and judges one’s actions. But are not one’s actions motivated by the heart, and by the mind? Isn’t all of that a “package deal”?
In the verses preceding verses 9 to 10 two examples are set up; those who trust in human/mortal flesh, and turns away from God. And those who trust in the Lord and reap the benefits of living within the Lord’s guidance. So how could that faithful-to-God heart be “deceitful”? Or perhaps “deceitful” is not the right/best word. The Hebrew word has the sense of a steep or treacherous hill. Maybe a better way to understand this is that the human heart is inconsistent. It maybe oriented towards God; or it may be ruled by earthly or base agendas. This would makes sense if the Lord is to judge the heart by the actions that it prompts and motivates.
How would God judge your “heart” beloved?