Today’s reading centres around the prophetic saying of Jeremiah, in the section we have read Jeremiah spells out the consequences of living a self-centred life based on the adage, just do it - to hell with everyone else. He makes it clear that actions have consequences. It’s interesting how he describes such consequences as being written by an iron pen with a point as sharp as a diamond (see 17:1). In other words we need to be mindful that the way we live makes marks that shape outcomes in the world, consequences that are often long lasting.
This passage is full of classic sayings that speak about the human condition. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, not a popular idea today, especially among psychologists and sociologists. We like to think that all things being equal human nature has a bias to do good. Jeremiah suggests the contrary, left to our own instincts we will do what suits us best. So where does this leave those of us who want to speak of an alternative way to live. Jeremiah suggests that it is by example that hearts and minds are won and heads are turned and lives changed.
Tomorrow in Psalm 1 we will be reminded of the blessings that flow from planting the roots of our lives in fresh clean water. Meanwhile the passage ends with another classic reminder that it is God who judges a person’s motives. It is God who knows our thoughts and the real purpose of our intentions. So walk and talk and open up your life to all kinds of people, be the example, but be careful about passing judgement, all may not be what it seems.
Eternal ever present God of creation
You give me emotions
You give me freedom
Now give me faith
To be a signpost of hope
Spreading out leaves
Of healing and forgiveness
To all who walk and talk
Along the river of life
5 This is what the Lord says:
‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 ‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.’
9 The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 ‘I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.’