A Forked Heart

In the old TV westerns, native American chiefs frequently denounced the settlers with the charge "Paleface speak with forked tongue."  We all know what a divided or forked tongue means.  The snake in the garden also had a forked tongue, saying one thing while meaning another.  But what does it mean to have a forked heart?  And is there any cure?   By forked heart, I mean that as the tines of a fork diverge, so do the affections of one’s heart.  A heart so divided loves the Lord, but only so much, and only so often.  There are other loves in one’s life.  The remainder of its time and intensity is centered on self and the things of the world.  Just as a forked tongue is full of deceit and treachery, such a divided heart could be called a ‘forked heart’.

James (brother of Jesus and an elder in the church of Jerusalem), identified these people as adulterous, unfaithful to God as a spouse might be to a marriage.  In chapter 4:4 he goes on to say Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  You are either a friend of the world and thereby an enemy of God, or your heart is whole.  A divided heart represents divided loyalties, but God will not play second fiddle to anyone or anything.  One cannot maintain ties with the world while claiming allegiance to God.  He insists that we choose our side and never deal falsely with him. 

Fortunately, James not only defines the problem, but also the solution for those adulterated by the world.  Later in verse eight of the same chapter he says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  The cure for double-mindedness or fork-heartedness is to draw near to God for a cleansing of the hands and the heart.  The actions and the motivations will align with one another and with the heart of God, and will no longer be mingled with pride or greed.  The psalmist in 86:11 prescribes much the same thing.  "Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name."  As we plead with him to teach us, we are drawing near to him.  He is drawing near to us to unite our forked heart.  Not only does the uniting of our hearts dispel the other loves from it, uniting a heart under the truth also reduces the fear of the world and the fear of one's own failings, as the fear of the Lord grows in us.  And as it grows, it will lead to a keen desire to cleanse our hands and hearts of selfish and worldly devotion.  Live whole/wholly/holy for him.



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