In my last blog, we looked at the definition of the heart, the need to be sensitive to our heart and we considered how to live from our heart.
In this part 2 to the heart, we’ll examine how western culture values the mind and we’ll ask the question as to whether the heart is good.
The Wonder and Dominance of the Mind
In the western world, we tend to emphasize the mind over the heart.
Think of the esteem we give to institutions of higher learning in their quest to expand and train the mind for great work. In our culture, churches and their work to develop the heart, seem a distant second. Just look at your nearby bookstore – books on the pysche, education and business, all with a focus on how to engage and sharpen the mind.
The mind is certainly a powerful and mysterious part of our body created by a powerful and mysterious God. I like Wired Magazine’s (2001) description of the magnificence of the mind:
“The Mind is medicine’s black-box mystery – 3 pounds of squishy super parallel electrochemical computer, capable of 20 million billion (20,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.”
What kind of pure genius created a mind that can compute at that speed?
Job 38:36 says:
Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?
It’s God who has given us wisdom yet, we often fall short of acknowledging that it comes from Him. Some call that pride.
Our culture tells us that you can’t “live from your heart” and that following the heart makes you susceptible to errant judgements based upon spontaneous emotions.
Is the Heart Good?
As followers of Christ and people of God, we can rest in this scripture found in Ezekiel 36:26:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
We have been given a new heart, a heart of flesh, not stone. That’s a fact for followers of Jesus.
Jesus even said our hearts can be noble:
“The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15
You may be wondering why your heart sometimes seem filled with lies, jealousy, lust, vengefulness, anger and rage? Let’s turn to what Paul says in Romans 7:21-25:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being (often described as our heart) I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (NIV) (emphasis added)
In this passage Paul is not saying that he is a wretched man. That word wretched simply means “distressed”…he’s distressed by the conflict between good and evil. The war that wages in and around our hearts and minds is from Satan, the world or our own flesh – all against our new good heart.
John Eldridge says:
“(if we think our heart is bad) we’ll have a really hard time hearing God’s voice in a deeply intimate way, because God speaks to us in our hearts. We’ll live under guilt and shame for all sorts of evil thoughts and desires that the Enemy has convinced us were ours. God will seem aloof. Worship and prayer will feel like chores.”
My mother used to own a gift shop called the Yellow Canary. It was alive, bright, clean, full of goodness, great people, laughter, beautiful gifts…you could say it was good, really good. But if a thief came into the store, would that make the store bad? No, the store was still a good place, but a person will ill-intent was let in. When we unfortunately allow sin into our lives, we can’t let that define who we are as Christians. We are still beloved and redeemed saints in God’s eyes. That’s who we are.
The mind is a wonderful, beautiful and powerful part of our being for sure, but our hearts are special and good and we should relish the good heart God has given us.
Lord God show me that what you have given me – my heart – is good and pure. Help me to see my heart according to what You say about it. Help me to not see myself as some deformed version of who you say I am. Help change my way of seeing my heart…as a beautiful, grand, wonderous expanse for you to paint Your glory and grace to us and to others. In the name of Christ, Amen.