“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that God gives to His people. One heart. The NIV renders the Hebrew here “an undivided heart.” How often has a divided heart resulted in trouble in your life? It has done plenty in mine. When our heart is divided, we are trying to give our devotion to more than one thing. That never goes well. As Jesus observed, when we try that we invariably wind up hating one thing at the expense of the other.
A divided heart had gotten the people of Israel into trouble time and time again. A part of them genuinely wanted to seek God, but they saw all the other nations around them getting by just fine without all the laws and moral restrictions they faced themselves. So, they played the field. They liked the blessings God promised, but they also liked the sensuality offered up by the religions around them. They wanted to serve God and meet the desires of their own hearts. Their hearts were divided.
What God promised was freedom from this trouble by giving them an undivided heart. He would give them a heart that was wholly dedicated to serving Him. And how? We know now that it would be by putting His Holy Spirit in us once we had submitted our life to His Son, Jesus Christ. Although the change isn’t instant by any means, with the Spirit’s help, we gradually do indeed learn the discipline of keeping our focus where it belongs: God and the things of God. If you want to avoid much of the trouble that otherwise besets you in this life, a great first step is to learn to seek God with an undivided heart.
In order to do this, take stock of the things you allow to occupy your attention. Are they the things of God, or do they belong to something or someone else? If the latter, which ones can you gradually begin paring back in terms of the amount of attention you grant to it? Take one at a time and reduce the focus it gets on a regular basis. Then, make sure to replace the time you gave to that with time spent focusing on God and the things of God.
This last part is important. If you don’t replace the worldly focus with a godly one, it will just be replaced by another, possibly worse, form of distraction. And, as the things of God gradually come to occupy more and more of your attention, you might be able to bring some of those other things back, but in the proper order and context. By this you will enjoy them as they were intended to be enjoyed.
As you set this pattern in your own life, there is even more good that will come from it. You will set an example that others will follow, including your children. Imagine if you could set a steady example of faithfulness for your children and grandchildren to give their whole focus to God and the things of God so that they can avoid the pain and heartache of misplaced attention? Wouldn’t that be worth whatever sacrifices it takes to get there?