heart illustration

Such a good heart

Don’t you just hate it when people try to sugar-coat bad behaviour? Someone can commit any number of offenses–exhibit rudeness or pride, be vindictive, covetous, or contentious–and yet there will be those who pronounce with great solemnity, “But he has (or had) such a good heart!” and all is to be excused. It is especially so when such a person dies. A lifetime of sinful behaviour is glossed over to make comfortable conversation or to coddle the ears of the family. 

The thought behind such glossing over bad behaviour is that everyone is basically good and inclined only to a little evil. No one is completely bad. Everyone, down deep, is truly good and has the best of intentions. In their essence, in their heart, everyone is really good.

The question that gets directly, straight to the heart of the matter is this: is that absolutely true? What does the Bible say about the human heart apart from Jesus?

In Genesis 6:5 we find this: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Genesis 8:21 we find, “…for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” In Jeremiah 17:9 we find, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Ouch!

Some might say, “Well, that’s the Old Testament. We live in New Testament times; so, because of the cross and resurrection, that isn’t the case for mankind anymore.” Really?

When St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he had to address the bad news before he could proclaim the good, the Gospel. In Romans 3:10-18 we find, “There is none righteous; there is none that understandeth; none that seeketh God; there is none that doeth good, no, not one; their throat is an open sepulchre; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery mark their ways; the way of peace they have not known; and, there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Not a very pretty picture, huh? Nope! All is hopeless apart from God’s supernatural intervention. Indeed, it is the same picture portrayed in the Old Testament.

But it is also in the Old Testament that we find that the prophet Ezekiel looked forward to a better day and was given this to proclaim: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit will I put in you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

You see, God made a way of getting past our naturally bad hearts. Through His son, Jesus, He gives to His redeemed, forgiveness, redemption, and adoption, and makes us a new creation–with hearts cleansed and prepared for His purposes. What is your purpose?

Originally appeared in the Caymanian Times.

  • Chris Pierce is an Anglican minister in Northern Ireland.

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