Scripture: Hebrews 3.12
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
Reflection: A Cautionary Tale of Unbelief
By Jon Polk
From the ancient history of the Israelite people comes a familiar story, a warning from the Holy Spirit. We recall those whose rebellion against God resulted in forty years of punishment in the wilderness, those whose hearts wandered away from faith, despite what God had done for them.
And it is here we discover that the heart is, in fact, the heart of the matter. In Hebrew thought, the heart was the core of a person’s being. The heart was the locus of emotional, intellectual, and moral activity and the center of physical activity. Thus, the heart controls motivations and produces actions. A clean heart produces faithful living. A corrupt heart leads to the opposite.
The Israelites who had followed Moses out of Egyptian captivity were given the opportunity to return home, back to the Promised Land that God had provided for their ancestors. But the Israelites’ unbelief, their lack of faith, determined their action. They walked away from God’s plan and his desires for them.
The English words belief and faith are both translated from the same Greek root word. We tend to think of belief as a set of propositions to which we give intellectual assent, but it is much more than that. To believe is to have faith. To have faith is to trust. To trust results in action.
An unbelieving heart does not trust in God’s ability to provide and lead and consequently results in decision-making and action that turn away from the good nature and grace of God. And such was the demise of an entire generation of Israelites, who walked away from the Promised Land because of their unbelief and perished after forty years of wandering in the desert. Moses brought God’s salvation to the ancient Israelites, but their hearts of unbelief charted a course of disobedient action.
Let the warning of the Holy Spirit be heard by those who are followers of Christ, do not harden your hearts towards God. May our souls sing with conviction these words from the great hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
The Request for Presence
Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart. — Psalm 32.12
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.