Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
I recently reflected on the heart in a blog I entitled “How to die“. For the sake of not writing a book in one setting, I thought I’d break it up into a second part that focuses more on what a spiritual heart entails. This is still a shortened version, there is still so much more.
A short review gives a reminder that we have both physical hearts and spiritual hearts. I work in the physical heart field of cardiology. We study and treat hearts all day long, we get good at keeping them alive and the ongoing quest to find better ways to do so is a field that continues to grow.
Sadly, physical hearts get diseased, grow weak, rupture, thicken, have holes, they enlarge, parts of them die, and can be damaged by stress and fear.
Not so differently are spiritual hearts from their respective physical counterpart.
What is a spiritual heart?
This question doesn’t get asked enough. I suppose it’s one of those questions that many just haven’t considered and only can speculate upon when talking about.
We know what a physical heart can do, it pushes oxygenated blood out to the body and deoxygenated blood to the lungs. The blood is the lifeline of the body and the heart is the mechanism to deliver that lifeline.
The spiritual heart is an anomaly. We don’t see spiritual cardiology classes teaching how to work on spiritual hearts. We don’t have acute care facilities for those experiencing a spiritual heart attack and we certainly don’t have operating rooms that can aid in healing spiritual hearts. The church would be the epicenter for such a practice and I have yet to see a spiritual cardiology unit.
To understand what a spiritual heart is, we have to see what it can do.
- The spiritual heart can store spiritual truth.
Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
This is a vital characteristic for the one who desires to walk the path of godliness. If the law of God is not within the spiritual heart, the one who abides cannot know how to follow God. Doing God’s will is a subject that gets brought up quite often in christian circles and the answers are often many. We often seek outside of ourselves when searching for the answer, often forgetting that when someone is adopted into the family of God, the Spirit of God inhabits their being.
Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
Believers don’t need to look out for God, He indwells within.
God leads His people and He is always near. We need not cry out into the darkness hoping that God will hear our prayer, we only must listen and obey. In many instances the path has already been shown, it just seems too obvious and often too simple. The path that God leads is a path many have taken, we can hear their reports and find out what lies ahead. We need not fear. Our hearts can rest assured that He who guided others will guide us faithfully and lead us to Himself.
Psalm 37:31 “The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.”
2. The spiritual heart can trust.
Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.”
Once we begin to embark on the journey, with the moral law as our guide, we have to continue to trust in the Lord for whatever He brings our way. Doubt only makes the heart grow faint, fear can weaken the heart and diminish the spiritual hearts ability to follow.
3. The spiritual heart follows, it does not lead.
Proverbs 3:1-6 “My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “follow your heart”? The indication is that your heart contains all that you need to make yourself happy since at the core of who you are is your own desire for happiness. Sounds great until your heart leads you into another bad relationship, bad business decision, or down a path that requires some back tracking. We wouldn’t follow our physical heart, that is what allows us to live, it becomes the core mechanism for being able to follow.
For the one who lives for themself, the heart is corrupt and will only lead down a path of destruction.
For those who have been transformed by the power of God, the spiritual heart is unified with the Spirit of God and is therefore made new. With our heart we trust the Lord for all that He was, is, and will be in our lives.
4. Our spiritual hearts receive instructions for life.
2 Corinthians 3:3 “It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
In the early days of Israel becoming a nation, it was not uncommon to erect stones at key locations where the Lord had proven Himself faithful. For generations people could walk past these stones and remember that God was faithful then, and He remains faithful today.
We, as men and women of God are called to be living stones as reminders of God’s faithfulness to those who love Him and trust Him. The Lord Himself writes His story on our hearts. We not only become living representations of God’s faithfulness, but we carry His message to others upon our hearts. With each Truth that God reveals, our hearts are like letters of God to the world. The letters remind them that He is still here, that He loves them, that He is calling them out of darkness into His light, that there is salvation in His name, the name that is above every other name. Jesus has written His name upon our hearts and we should carry that name proudly before the world.
5. We undergo a spiritual heart transplant when we trust in Christ alone.
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.”
The spiritual heart that we are born with is hardened by a heritage of sin. Sin corrupts to the core, and like cholesterol and calcium that hardens the arteries of a physical heart, sin deposits itself into our spiritual heart from the moment we can understand how to rebel.
Sin does not permit our hearts to receive anything from the Lord, it is thorough in its destructive force and infects all of who we are.
When we sin as believers, it is like we get writers block, our hearts don’t become corrupt again but the process of God writing upon our hearts becomes obstructed by the sin that we permit within our lives. It is vital to the spiritual heart to have an unobstructed connection to the Spirit of God within us. The Lord will not allow you to go on indefinitely in this state, He brings conviction of sin by the knowledge revealed by His Spirit.
6. A good heart is a healthy heart, a bad heart is corrupted by sin.
Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
When someone has a heart attack, the emergency system is initiated with a 911 call to a local operator. Many things are happening at that moment, the paramedics are rushing to pick up the patient and bring them to the hospital, the ER staff is preparing to receive the patient, the cardiologist is notified and is being sent the ECG as soon as possible, and then the Cath. Lab staff who aids in opening the blocked vessel is being called and assembled for emergent intervention.
When the people of God sin, we often take it far too casually. Sin is like throwing a clot down a coronary artery, once the blood flow stops, the heart is in danger of dying. The spiritual blood flow in a believer is the Spirit of God. When we sin, we stop up the ability of God’s Spirit to flow through us. We diminish our ability to follow His lead and instead of doing His work, we have to hyperfocus on the obstruction so that we can once again move forward.
Fellow believers are your emergency team when you get to a place that you struggle to break out of, when sin gets entrenched and the blockage seems immovable, you need others to come along side and help you heal. This is what the church is for, to love one another back to good health that we might be a light to the world. It’s important to remember that our first move is always back to the Lord in repentance, it is the weakness of the flesh that requires help in avoiding the pitfalls of sin.
7. A healthy heart reflects praise back to God.
Psalm 57:7 “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”
How do you know if your heart is healthy?
The spiritually healthy heart is joyful, abounding in praise, it is receiving the instructions of the Lord and then becoming a living tablet to the world. It is good to be self-aware of what a spiritually healthy heart looks like, we can all too easily accept being in a state of diminished function when there is so much more that God has for you.
Most people who come into the Cath Lab are full of anxiety, not as much about the procedure but what we will find. The joy that radiates from their countenance is perceptible when they find out they have a clean bill of health. Some people have already written themselves off, thinking they are about to die but when we tell them their heart is good, it’s like a shock to find out their fears were all for not.
If your concerned about where your spiritual heart is, sit down and talk with someone who knows you and allow them to reflect back to you what they see. Be open and honest about where your at in life, hopefully they will have enough discernment to give you encouragement on growing healthy once again. A good mentor uses the Word of God in healing. Everything pertaining to life is found in God’s Word. Ultimately, the Lord knows our hearts and when we pray and ask Him to reveal our hearts to us, He will. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth directly, other times He reveals it by His Word, and sometimes through others. The revelation of our hearts is directed by His Spirit into our lives.
8. A good heart is transfixed upon a good God.
Psalm 112:5-8 “A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.”
There are all kinds of things that will try to affect your heart but they cannot injure you if you don’t let them. Your spiritual heart is established by God when you place your trust in Christ. It may break for others but this is more of a yearning for their well being, not a deviation from where God has you. When your strength comes from the Lord, there is nothing this world can do to move you from your place. When we draw close to God, we sense love for others, the two go hand in hand. If you don’t love others, you can’t love God. If you think you love God and don’t love others, you only fool yourself and you are not of Him.
All good things come from God and the good that is stored is that which is stored up by God in you. If good things proceed from you, it is because God is manifesting His love through you.
You have no inherent good in you. Contrary to worldly philosophy, new age believers, and every other corrupt form of belief that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, we are incapable of producing anything that is worthwhile. Jesus changes that paradigm and infuses Himself into the hearts of those who trust in Him.
He brings good out of us because He is good.
9. Godly wisdom is found in the heart.
Proverbs 23:15 “My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself”
When you think of how we make decisions in life, our first thought goes to the mind. We take into consideration all of the options that we might have, past experiences, emotional ties and come to a conclusion for what the best path might be. The hippocampus is a region of the limbic system of the brain where we make these associations and often draw conclusions. It is an area where we consolidate memories and then ship them off to be stored for a later date. We actually have two hippocampi because of the the symmetrical nature of the brain.
When we attempt to intellectualize our situations and make decisions moving forward, we are using the hippocampus as well as other aspects such as the amygdala and lower temporal lobe of our brain to draw conclusions.
Wisdom stored in the heart, is actually Godly truth stored in the mind. When we associate God’s Word with our experiences, we align God’s wisdom with good and bad decisions and make wise decisions moving forward. The Lord affects our ability to reason, He draws forth Truth from that which we have stored and then relates them appropriately as we move forward. The Spirit of God brings a type of mental synergy that incorporates God’s Truth into our reality and forms the necessary words and actions necessary for making right decisions.
It is imperative that you know the Word of God. Read it, study it, dwell upon it, and let it become a part of who you are. Like a spiritual channel, the Lord will move this truth through your life when it becomes necessary for self reflection, for teaching, and for making decisions.
10. Our heart can either condemn or reassure us.
1 John 3:18-21 “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.”
The believer who is transformed by the power of God reflects it by action. Our hearts can either be unified with our bodies in that we are staying true to our conviction or we can live in constant conflict, knowing the right course and still acting otherwise.
If you are honest with yourself, you are staying receptive to what God is showing you in your heart. We can deny what He reveals but the pathway will be difficult and the conclusion will be trouble. We can walk in the Truth that God reveals and our hearts will remind us that the way is good. Our own hearts can either assure or condemn and we are like an open book before the Lord, He knows what is real and what isn’t.
Knowing your heart and how vulnerable it is can be a first step in where to place it, either in the hands of God or in the care of a world that will step all over it.
Allow the One who created you to care for you, He is trustworthy, He will strengthen your heart, He will write His name upon it like a master engraver, and He will move your heart in step with His.
When you walk with the Lord, joy will be upon you. One day He will present you perfect before the Father and the fullness of His faithfulness will be realized.
Trust Jesus with your heart….He is trustworthy.