The direction of a life comes straight from the heart. Where the heart leads, the feet follow. For good or for evil the man moves.
This is not a new concept to us. We have looked at it several times already. We have even looked at Jesus’ words; “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45b). The direction of the heart truly sets the path for our lives. One cannot go against his own heart; at least not for very long.
We are all born as ‘clean slates’, waiting to be written upon by the journey called life. How is it that one walks a good path where another walks an evil one? What is the secret to staying on the ‘good path’? Is it simply a matter of “nature vs nurture” or is there something more involved?
For those of you who are not familiar with this concept (very few aren’t), man is trying to figure out how much of our personalities and actions trace back to genetic traits we carry verses how much comes from the environment we were raised in. I believe it is both but the thing that makes the most difference is the willingness to listen to the heart.
As God’s creation, we have a connection with Him. It is that voice calling out to us to stop when our hands go towards the bad actions. It is the voice calling us to share, to give when we see someone else hurting. Little by little we either learn to listen or to turn away. Yes. Having parents who model a godly life can help steer a person in the direction of God. But there are people who have grown up with godly parents who RUN the other way and those raised in all forms of evil who RUN to Him. We EACH have to choose which road we will walk. You can’t lay your path at the feet of your parents or your gene pool. It comes straight from your heart and your willingness to listen.
Our reading today looks at some of the life differences of where the heart of man has led him. Let’s visit these places together.
“Evil men don’t understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.” Just a little bit of paraphrasing of verse 5. What does this really mean? Many evil men wind up going through the ‘justice system’ of society. They understand that wrong acts have consequences, but ONLY if those acts can be proven. The man with power believes himself to be beyond the reach of the law.
The man who knows God also knows that wrong actions deserve and will be punished. He also knows that he is just as guilty as anyone else of wrong acts. We KNOW we have sinned. And we KNOW that Jesus paid for those sins on the cross. We recognize there is a cost for everything. And that NO evil goes without being paid for. If not on this side of Heaven, then certainly on the other side of the grave. THIS is justice and TRUE justice comes only from God.
A poor man who walks in integrity is better than a rich man who walks in evil ways. This concept goes very well with the one in verse eight. A man who gets rich by charging interest and looking to his own profit will eventually find his wealth gone and given instead to the man who is generous.
A man whose heart is open to those in need receives MUCH more in return than simple money. He receives friendship, respect, love, genuine affection, and ties that endure. He sees their needs and meets them however he can, even if it costs him all he has. God will care for him as he cares for others.
The stingy man breeds contempt in others towards him. He has no friends beyond those he can purchase, while his money lasts. Some of those ‘friends’ will eventually get tired of being treated poorly and leave, regardless of the money involved. The rich man sees nothing beyond his pocketbook. His only concern is its increase. His heart is cut off from the needs of his fellow man. God will still His hands and let Satan take everything from this man, even up to his life.
The one who keeps God’s law will receive understanding. His heart will see the truth. The more he walks in that truth, following God’s heart, the stronger his heart will become. Regardless of what the world throws his way, he will cling fast to the Lord. He will not seek after the things man has to offer. God will see to his needs and prosper his life in many ways. But his heart will lead him to continue reaching out to others.
Gluttony isn’t only confined to over indulging in food. You can also be a glutton for power, money, fame, or even physical relationships. Anything the heart puts in the place of priority above even God is gluttony. It is like a child grabbing ALL the candy he can get his hands on as the parade passes by, even if it means pushing other children out of the way. Nothing matters but his own desires for more, More, MORE.
The friend of such a person is only setting himself up for disappointment. The glutton will use the friend to improve his own position without regard to how it impacts the friend. Eventually, the friend might have his eyes opened but by then significant damage will have been inflicted on the friend’s heart. His heart followed the wrong path and will end up paying the price for it.
So, what should we do? First of all, search out that ‘quiet voice’. If you haven’t heard it in a while, sit down and wait quietly. Examine where your heart has been leading you lately. Does it line up with God’s word? Is it selfish or open and giving? Are you truly desiring to help or are you looking for recognition?
After examining where your heart has been leading you, if you don’t like the path, begin to change it. Repent first of the path you have been walking. Ask forgiveness of those that you have hurt along the way. And begin to change what you are ‘feeding’ your heart. For it to walk a good path, it needs to have good ‘food’ put into it. If you continue to feed it evil it will continue to lead you down evil paths.
God’s word is FILLED with good food for your heart. Dive in and see where He takes you. It will be freeing as you fill your heart with what God says about you. He will walk with you in ALL the changes you will face. There is NOTHING this world can do to you that will separate you from the love of the Father.
Father God, FILL my heart with Your voice and Your word. Fill my spiritual ears with Your voice. Help me always distinguish between Your voice and that of this world. Don’t let me be lulled away by flattering voices. Keep my heart firmly on Your paths.