Over and over again in His Word, God draws attention to the word "heart"--His heart, our heart, individual hearts, the heart of cities and nations; the seat of passions, the center of our beings, the primary organ for existence. And though our focus is often subverted to the externals, God's focus is on the heart!
I want to recommend a bold book that cuts to the heart:
Eyes Wide Open: Avoiding the Heartbreak of Emotional Promiscuity.
In this book, Brienne Murk challenges the trend of technical virgin and emphasizes the heart of purity. "Emotional entanglement happens when we seek fulfillment in the things of this world rather than in God. This is a problem that goes back thousands of years. In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah was referred to as 'the weeping prophet' because he so empathized with God's sorrow over Israel's sin--the sin of forsaking their first love and giving their hearts away to other gods (see Jeremiah 2). Over and over again, Israel had to learn that what the world offers cannot satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. The key to escaping emotional entanglement is to cultivate a heart that is completely focused on God."
I've include selections from Jeremiah 2 in this post that highlight Israel's promiscuity and God's aching heart. These are key passages that, if we're honest, we can readily relate to each time we seek to replace God with any thing or any one else. It's a fairly lengthy passage, but worth our reflection.
This is what the Lord says:
“I remember how eager you were to please me
as a young bride long ago,
how you loved me and followed me
even through the barren wilderness....
"Has anyone ever heard of anything
as strange as this?
Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols!
The heavens are shocked at such a thing
and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
says the Lord.
“What have you gained by your alliances with Egypt
and your covenants with Assyria?
What good to you are the streams of the Nile
or the waters of the Euphrates River?
Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.
Your turning from me will shame you.
You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is
to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him.
I, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!
“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you
and tore away the chains of your slavery,
but still you said,
‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree,
you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols.
But I was the one who planted you,
choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best.
How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.
I still see the stain of your guilt.
I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!
“You say, ‘That’not true!
I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’
But how can you say that?
Go and look in any valley in the land!
Face the awful sins you have done....
When will you stop panting after other gods?
But you say, ‘Save your breath.
I’m in love with these foreign gods,
and I can’t stop loving them now!’
“How you plot and scheme to win your lovers.
Even an experienced prostitute could learn from you!...
And yet you say,
‘I have done nothing wrong.
Surely God isn’t angry with me!’
But now I will punish you severely
because you claim you have not sinned.
First here, then there—
you flit from one ally to another asking for help.
But your new friends in Egypt will let you down,
just as Assyria did before.
In despair, you will be led into exile
with your hands on your heads,
for the Lord has rejected the nations you trust.
They will not help you at all" (from Jeremiah 2, NLT).
Yet God cries out with a promise to heal:
“My wayward children,” says the Lord,“come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts” (Jeremiah 3:22, NLT).
Sometimes it's a long process, but we have the loving God whose heart pursues human hearts. He delights to heal us, to restore us to true fellowship with Him, a relationship full of hope and peace and joy.
On a side: remembering that human love is a gift from Him to illustrate to the world the love of Christ for the redeemed Church, "Wives, we must submit to our husbands (no matter how difficult that may seem) in the same way we submit to our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5, paraphrase). This is often one of our best tools for evangelism as we interact with a world seeking satisfaction from all the wrong places and coming up empty over and over again in their own relationships. And as we cultivate our love for God, our love for those He loves can only grow.
Dear Lord Jesus, help me today smash the idols and smother the stench of incense burned to false deities in my heart. Cleanse me, Lord. I want my heart to be Your home, full of only the things that You would delight to have surrounding You in Your dwelling place. Grow me in love, for You first and always, and then in my love for those You've placed around me. Fulfill Your purposes in me, in each of us. Amen.