The Cunning Heart
Genesis 34:22-23 (ESV) – “Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people—when every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. Will not their livestock, their property and all their beasts be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will dwell with us.”
How well do you know yourself? Most of us think we know and understand ourselves pretty well. And perhaps we do. But I guarantee one of the areas we fail to understand ourselves is in our capacity for deception. We are so skilled at deception that we often don’t recognize that we’re doing it. In a profound way, we deceive ourselves to keep our eyes blinded about our deceptive ways.
Our passage today shows us an example of mankind’s capacity to contrive deceptive plans. The background of the text is Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was raped by one of the inhabitants of the land. The man fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. The man’s father sought to make a deal with Jacob to combine their people on the land. But Jacob’s brothers learned of the rape and longed for revenge. They demanded the men be circumcised first, then they could marry and join their families. But their plan was a trap. Their intent, and they ultimately achieved it, was to slaughter the men after the circumcision, to weaken them from defending themselves.
However, the men of the land heard this deal and accepted it. Why? Because their own deceptive hearts had devised a plan. Our text today shows they eyed the possessions of Jacob and his offspring. They believed this agreement positioned them to plunder Jacob and make everything their own.
Both groups in this story show the power to deceive contained within human hearts. Jacob’s sons sought justice. The sons of Hamor sought to steal and plunder. The same substance in these groups is in us. We have the capacity to deceive and devise plans with deception as the aim. It may not be to steal or kill, but our hearts can do this throughout the day with any number of interactions. We can withhold information to make something look better than what it is. We can manipulate people by how we respond to things. There is no shortage of capacity to deceive in our hearts.
The lesson in this is to guard your heart. Evaluate your motives.
The Lord loves a pure heart and we must strive to maintain that. Repent where you see deception. Remember that our enemy deals in deception. We are to live in the light with integrity of words and deeds.
Reflection & Journal:
- What is deception?
- Why is deception so common for us in our daily words and deeds?
- How can we guard our hearts from deception?
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