Even if you aren\’t a believer in God, you know how important the human Heart is. Just as the physical organ pumps life throughout your person, there is a center within each person that defines the totality of the self. And just like your physical organ has to be in top shape to keep you healthy, that center for your existential self must also be health. God is especially concerned with this existential center–your Heart–being healthy and operating in top shape in order for each person to be in a right relationship with Him. But each of us have broken or otherwise damaged hearts so we are left with the question, \”How do I fix my heart?\” Full disclosure: there are a variety of answers to the question. (Maybe we\’ll explore some of those in the future.) But in the book of Deuteronomy Moses helps us recognize one key to fixing your heart. It\’s all about what you say in it.
Moses was speaking to some people who he knew were going to face challenges within themselves and in their relationship to the Creator and Savior God. Moses was most concerned with what happened with their hearts–the central key to their health and success with God. And on multiple occasions the counsel Moses gives is for them to guard the way that they would speak in their hearts, the inner dialogue, the deepest and most fundamental thoughts within themselves. We all have this sort of inner, heart-dialogue so the warnings Moses gives are directly relevant to each and every one of us.
#1 Don\’t tell your heart that the challenges in front of you are greater than the God who is with you.
“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did (Deuteronomy 7:17-18a)
Fear can be paralyzing. Fear destroys hope. Fear creates all sorts of subsequent irrational and destructive thoughts. If you tell yourself down in the depths of your self that you can\’t do the things God calls you to do because of [fill-in-the-blank reason from your circumstances or character], then you will be destroyed. Moses reminded Israel that no matter what obstacles they faced, their God was bigger and stronger and more relevant than any of them. It\’s still true today. Don\’t let the challenges in front of you create fear within you.
#2 Don\’t tell your heart that you have made yourself successful.
\”Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.\” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
There\’s nothing wrong with acknowledging and celebrating accomplishments. But it is a terrible disease of the heart to tell yourself that you are the reason for your successes. When we are poor and lowly we tend to recognize our need for God and we maintain a healthy degree of humility. Unfortunately, when things go well we can convince ourselves (or be convinced by others) that we are the cause of our own exaltation. Nothing could be further from the truth. When your heart becomes proud in your \’accomplishments\’ you lose sight of God, you develop a warped sense of your true self, and you will struggle to rightly relate to others and the world around you. Don\’t let your victories make your heart proud.
#3 Don\’t tell your heart that you are righteous enough to deserve God\’s blessings.
\”Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.\” (Deuteronomy 9:4-5)
Pride doesn\’t just grow from a wrong view of our successes. We can also become prideful when we think that God is blessing us (a good first step, acknowledging our success comes from God) because we have been good little boys and girls. You do not deserve anything from God. You have not earned anything from him. Whatever good he does for you is out of sheer grace. Acknowledge that and make sure your heart knows it.
#4 Don\’t tell your heart that other people don\’t deserve your help.
\”If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin.\” (Deuteronomy 15:9)
It is so easy to rationalize a sense of superiority and neglect toward others, especially the disadvantaged. God demands that we be gracious to others (even the \’undeserving\’) even as he has been gracious to us. Reminding yourself of God\’s grace to you (see #3 above) will help you to guide your heart to be gracious toward others.
#5 Don\’t tell your heart that knowing the truth is impossible.
\”And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’\” (Deuteronomy 18:21)
Israel would be concerned over whether or not they could discern a true prophet from a false one. Moses reassures them that they could indeed know what was true and what was false. Our world–filled with false news, family betrayals, and false portrayals via social media–can create similar doubts to the extent that it is unsurprising for people to cry out, \”What is truth? Does truth even exist?\” It does. God has revealed what is real and true if we would only up his Word to consider and discover it! Don\’t let you heart be burdened with the lies of the World. Remind your heart that truth is out there and you can know it and live by it.
All of these things spoken by Moses are ultimately realized by Jesus. His Resurrection assures us that no obstacle, even death itself, can overwhelm us. His death tells us that we have no ground to stand on and any success or righteousness we may have comes only by the grace of God. His kindness in coming to Earth, living a life of constant service, and even now serving the church as our Mediator shows us the kind of heart we should have toward others. And his fulfillment of every word of promise confirms for us that through him we can know the truth that will make us free.
Do you want to fix your heart? Watch the way you speak in it. Drive out the lies of darkness with the light of the truth of Jesus.