One Heart and One Purpose

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.”

Jeremiah 32:39

The early chapters of Jeremiah featured warnings for the Israelites to stop their idolatrous rejection of God, lest he judge them in a devastating way. Then, the prophecies of Jeremiah became even more bleak, no longer holding out hope of repentance, and promising that Babylon would overwhelm Jerusalem and carry her people into exile. But, even as Jeremiah continued to be a prophet of doom, he also became a beacon of hope. The time would come when the Lord would forgive, renew, and restore his people.

In the first part of Jeremiah 32, for example, God vows to punish his people for their evil deeds. But in later verses of this chapter, he offered a vision of renewal. God would bring his people back from the places where they had been scattered (32:37). They would be his people and he would be their God (32:38). “And,” the Lord adds, “I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants” (32:39).

The Hebrew of verse 39 could be translated more literally: “And I will give them one heart and one way to fear me.” The heart, in ancient Hebrew, was the center of thinking and willing. The way had to do with action that reflect the choices of the heart. Thus, the NIV captures the sense of this phrase in its translation: “I will give them singleness of heart and action.” Their greatest desire and focus in life will be to fear the Lord, that is, to worship him in reverence in every area of life. For centuries, the Israelites had many hearts and walked in many ways, including ways of immorality, injustice, and idolatry. But the time would come, God promised, when all the people would seek to serve the Lord.

As I read this promise from Jeremiah 32, I’m reminded of the discord and disarray in so much of the church today. In so many ways, we are like the ancient Israelites, who abandoned God’s ways in favor of norms of the culture around them. We may not worship literal idols today, but we are tempted to idolize money or riches. We may not offer our children to Molech, but we may sacrifice them to the “gods” of success and worldly accomplishment. We may not engage in ritual prostitution, but we may ignore the biblical call to sexual holiness. Don’t we, as God’s people, need the gift of one heart and one purpose? Don’t we need a renewed desire to fear the Lord in all we do, honoring him in every area of life?

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever experienced a Christian community that had “one heart and one purpose”? When? Why was this group of Christians united in their desire to serve the Lord? In what way does your Christian community need the gift of one heart and one purpose?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, as I reflect upon your promise to your people, to give them one heart and one purpose, I find myself yearning for the same . . . both for me and for your church today. How easily we have become distracted from our primary mission as your people. How tempting it is to seek first something other than your kingdom and glory. How often do we abandon your ways for the ways of the world around us. Forgive us, Lord, for all the ways we have been unfaithful to you.

Give your people one heart and one purpose. Give us a passion for your glory, that we might seek to worship you first and foremost in all we do. Unify your people, Lord, in your truth and by your Spirit. Help congregations that are struggling to find their purpose to give themselves to you completely. Where churches are floundering, give their leaders new, clear vision for your mission and glory.

All praise be to you, Gracious God, because you renew and refocus your people! Amen.