When God Is Near In Our Mouths But Far From Our Hearts

Often referred to as “the weeping prophet,” Jeremiah spoke up for God during dark and difficult times. He delivered oracles of judgment and repentance for more than forty years—from Judah’s last good king (Josiah) to sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. Throughout the book that bears his name, Jeremiah records heartfelt, tragic laments.

____________Oh that my head were waters,
_________________and my eyes a fountain of tears,
____________that I might weep day and night
_________________for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jer 9:1)

The descendants of Abraham were unfaithful in their covenant with God, treacherous in their dealings with others, and intimate in their relationship with pagan idols.

Jeremiah has been providentially preserved for our reverent instruction and careful learning (Rom 15:4). Though we live thousands of years later and under the jurisdiction of a different covenant, God is still holy, we continue to struggle with the vices of the flesh, and idolatry is more prevalent than ever.


Consider one timeless temptation from Jeremiah 12:2, where God was said to be “near” in the mouths of the people, but “far” from their hearts. How can we be guilty of following in the same misguided footsteps?

  • By using the worthy and honorable name of God in careless vanity (Exo 20:7).
  • By “swearing to God” that we will do or be something we have no intention of doing or being (Mat 5:33-37).
  • By telling others—our friends, co-workers, spouses, children—that they should love and obey God while failing to hold ourselves to the standard we are preaching (Mat 23:1-3).
  • By seeking God in prayer with wrong and selfish motives (James 4:3).
  • By singing praises to God in an assembly of the saints this weekend without engaging the instruments of our hearts (Eph 5:18-20).
  • By teaching as doctrine the commandments of men (Mat 15:7-9).

Do you want a worthy goal for your weekend? Remember that your mouth and your heart are God-given. He designed them to be used in harmonious concert. Let’s use our mouths in God-glorifying ways and guard our hearts as territory of the LORD of hosts.

What about you? Can you think of other ways we can be guilty of holding God “near” in our mouths but “far” from our hearts?

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