In 2001, terrorists hijacked four, American planes, crashing the planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 2,977 people were killed.
In 2009, a man opened fire at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas and took the lives of 13 people.
In 2013, two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring over 250.
In 2015, a married couple opened fire in an office building in San Bernardino, CA and killed 14.
In 2016, a security guard opened fire in a gay night club in Orlando, FL, murdering 49 people.
In 2017, a man opened fire at a concert on the Las Vegas strip, mowing down and taking the lives of 58 people.
And since I started writing this blog post, a man just drove a truck into a busy bicycle path in Manhattan, killing 8.
All of these were attacks committed on US soil–devised and wicked.
And let’s not forget the stabbing on the London Bridge in March of this year, or the bombing on a Russian subway in April, or the mass shooting at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May, or the van ramming in London that happened in June, or the van attack in Barcelona that took place in August, or the bucket bombs on a London subway two months ago in September.
Again, I list just a handful of the devised and wicked plans that have taken place in our broken world.
And what about the massive genocides that have taken place across our world?
An estimated 5-17 million were killed in the Holocaust; an estimated 1 million Tutsi’s were killed in Rwanda; roughly 3 million were killed in Bangladesh; 2 million were killed in Somalia; and close to 40,000 were slaughtered in the Bosnia genocide.
It’s safe to say that all of the above are classic, textbook examples of “hearts that devise wicked plans” that are listed in the line up of “deadly sins” mentioned in Proverbs 6:18. Genuinely, I think few would argue.
Pre-determined and pre-meditated. Violet, sickening, and disturbing. Attacks that were planned and executed in the hopes of taking lives and inciting terror. Awful. Absolutely awful. These “wicked plans” are the ones we see across our screens–the ones that make the headlines–the ones that we talk about in our church pews and around the coffee pot at work–the ones we can all wholeheartedly nod our heads in unified agreement and say, “THIS IS WICKED!” These are the “wicked plans” that cause us to post things like, “Come, Lord Jesus” and “One day there will be no more sorrow.” Again, these are the “wicked plans” that rally in my head when I read Proverbs 6:18.
And though it would probably feel a tad bit nicer and a bit more comfortable to focus my writing on these grand-scale atrocities that are becoming all too commonplace, the Spirit is nudging me to look a little closer, reflect a little deeper.
What does the verse say?
A heart that devises wicked schemes.
What is it that devises? What is it that schemes, plots, and plans?
And what does the Word say about the “heart”…my heart?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9
So if my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, isn’t it fair to conclude that my heart, too, is also capable of devising and carrying out “wicked plans?”
Sure, I’m not plotting to bomb, stab, or run people over with a van… but is it possible that me… we… are “devising” in other ways?
Ever spent time thinking about how or what you would say if you had a hot minute to give someone a piece of your mind?
Ever marinaded with anger, thinking through your plans for justice and your plots for revenge?
Ever let your thought life get carried away in a fit of rage, pondering what it would feel like if you hit that person right in the chops or uttered those spiteful words right in front of their face?
Ever planned ahead for how you were going to lie and get out of that commitment?
Ever thought ahead about how you were going to isolate yourself and create a space for your sin to be both indulged and hidden?
Ever planned ahead about how you were going to exclude “that person” from your plans?
Ever thought and planned ways you could “look better” or “stand out” from the rest?
Now some might say, “Let’s be real, Jessica. You can’t possibly compare the ‘evil plans’ of bombing subways and murdering innocent souls with your sin of ‘avoiding truth’ and ‘marinading in anger.’ You can’t group these together; you just can’t.”
And though my proud flesh would love to agree, I can’t.
Because the reality is…
We have ALL sinned and ALL fallen short.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
One sin breaks the WHOLE law, leaving us accountable for ALL of it.
“For whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point, has become accountable for all of it.” James 2:10
The murderer and the hater are BOTH in need of a Savior, a Messiah who can overhaul the heart.
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer…” 1 John 3:15
God minces no words; He gives no exceptions; and He draws holy lines where we don’t but should.
Because the hard-n-fast truth is that every single one of us is utterly unable to stand in the presence of His perfection on our own merit. Every one of us falls short of His holy standard. Every one of us has a broken and busted heart. Every one of us is capable of not only being tempted, but also guilty of “devising wicked plans.” And every one of our sins, no matter how big or small we perceive them to be, is an offense to the Father that must be covered with the blood-stained garments of His Son.
So why didn’t I just erase my intro where I outlined all the stats connected to terrorist attacks, genocides, and the “wicked plans” of the world’s extremists?
Because I wanted you (and me) to see how “deceitfully wicked” our hearts can be – how entirely contrary our hearts can be to see our sin.
We need to acknowledge our sin, and reflect on our sin.
It’s hard to sit intentionally in repentance for the wicked parts of our hearts that we don’t want to think about. It’s hard to believe that our hearts – while redeemed and full of good things like love and hope – are still ugly. So, be encouraged friends, this blogger right here planned on keeping the content of His Word at arm’s length, but let’s both get in close and ask Him to change us.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23