This Thing the Heart

 Photo, courtesy of Tim Rudman

Photo, courtesy of Tim Rudman

“The Lord looks at the heart”…

“Guard your heart”…

“What is in his or her heart?”...

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17: 9, NIV)

We’ve all heard short phrases like this before and we’ve read Scripture verses like Proverbs 4:23 and Jeremiah 17:9 before. What does the word “heart” mean in these phrases?:

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The “heart” is used over 1,000 times in the Old and New Testaments combined. The Old Testament uses the word “heart”, and the New Testament often uses its synonym of “strong desires.”

A simple Biblical definition of the heart is: “The inner man in contrast with the outer man,”- the mind, emotions, the will. The heart has thoughts (imaginations, it dwells on things, fantasizes, has ideas). The heart has intentions (purposes, insights, wants, needs, drives, plans, desires, and passions).

Another definition for the heart is, an “appetite.” The heart of a person is what they are hungry for, i.e. approval, praise, keeping their life under control by organizing every inch of it, etc. It’s what drives a person. It’s what a person will allow their life to revolve around.

The heart is the root system of a person. What is in your root system? Or you can think of it in terms of your cell phone’s settings. What you put in the settings will determine how your phone will act; what we have in the roots of our hearts will determine the kind of fruit we will bear when the pressures of life are thrown at us.

God is interested in our hearts: our strong desires, our minds, our emotions, our wills, our appetites, our root system, our phone settings. The human that hasn’t given his or her life to Christ has a root system that’s out of whack. Because there is sin on this broken earth, God desired to save humanity’s root systems so that man can be free from needing to find approval and praise from other men or worldly desires. So, God sent His Son. If you look at yourself and those around you, you can see some root systems out of whack because people are feasting on the wrong things. It is possible that if we change our root systems and get it in focus with Christ, we can bear better fruit.

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“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.” Isaiah 61: 1-2

The centrality of the Gospel is not just that those who accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, believe, and commit their lives to Him that they will go to heaven. Yes, going to heaven is a part of it, but the other part is that while we are still on this earth, the Holy Spirit will change us and grow our root systems [our hearts] so that we have the Good News flowing in our root systems [our hearts] to bear good fruit while we’re in this life.

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Are we going to always understand all the motives of our hearts? No. Can we ever understand the motives of our hearts? Yes.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:21

Is the Lord saying, “what you invest in your heart will change it?” Or, is the Lord saying “what you’re investing in reveals where your heart already is?”

In thinking of my own root system at various times in my life, I’d say the latter. With the Wolf of Wall Street example I gave last week, I’d surmise that Jordan Belfort already had sexual lusts and desires for money in his root system before he got rich. He never resolved beforehand to not let those things overtake him. The illegal way he got money and how he lustfully spent it was the fruit from what was already in his root system.

A lot of people’s frustrations in life will go away once they realize that they need a new focus, a new fertilizer for their root system. If you’re hungering for human approval, fame, money, attention and you’re looking for it in people or worldly things then you will always be frustrated with life, trying to find a different person, a new religion, a new exercise technique, etc to help you. You’ve got to go into your root system and clean house and change your focus.

Even if your situation doesn’t change, the way you respond (your root system) can change, and you will bear better fruit, because you would have taken your worship focus of man made ideals off of worldly things, and put the focus back onto God, who you’re supposed to be worshiping anyways.

Happy Friday xx!