The Heart Of The Matter

, It is important to know that above all, the Lord is concerned about our hearts. In the Bible, the word heart is mentioned 700 times, let alone other versions of the word, such as hearts, hearted, brokenhearted, tenderhearted, etc. We know that when God mentions something once it is important, but the fact that it is mentioned well over 700 times implies that it is of serious concern to God. Why is the heart so important? According to Proverbs 4:23, out of the heart flow the issues of life. If you look up the words heart and issues in your Strongs concordance you will find that the word for issues, “towtsa’ah,” is derived from another Hebrew word which is its primary root, “sharats”. This word means to swarm or abound; breed (bring forth, increase) abundantly or (in abundance). In this verse, God warns us to, “Keep your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the issues of life.” Likewise, the word heart is “leb,” which means feelings, will or intellect, but also is used to describe the center of something. So Proverbs 4:23 could be read this way, “Keep the core of your being with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of the very center of who you are, is created the life you lead, in abundance.” Our heart is the creative force that God gives us which forms and shapes our lives. It creates that which surrounds us, good or bad. Matthew 12:33-35 shows us that what we speak out of our mouths comes directly from the heart, that we store up treasure there, and it is either good or evil. Our hearts can either create a good life or an evil life for us. Jeremiah 17:9-10 shows us that as human beings, we are not aware of what is in our hearts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? I, the Lord, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Because we are born into sin, we can’t understand the depth of the condition that we are in. We perceive life as normal the way it is, everything is as it should be. But the Lord knows that left to ourselves, we will create out of who we are, lives that will absolutely violate the spiritual laws He has put in place. As a result of violating these laws again and again, we will become so entangled in the consequences of breaking these laws, that our hearts become severely handicapped, producing warped versions of the life that God intended for us to have. In Psalm 51, David so vividly realized the condition of his heart and what it had produced for him that he cried out to God to create within him a clean heart. Jesus is the only one who can save us, who can make the condition of our inner selves clean again. By the power of His shed blood, He forgives our sinful condition and by the power of the cross, as we bring each habit and pattern of thinking to God in repentance, He will cut it off at the roots, bringing it to death. It is then up to us to be disciplined in that death, not to give those old habits power again, bringing them to life. Every wounding of the heart which is not healed creates a structure which enables us to keep on functioning in spite of the wound. These structures take away from our own original and unique design. They are defenses we create and add to what God created us to be. To bring us back to our original design, we must allow the Lord entrance to our hearts so that He can accomplish healing through forgiveness and repentance. We cannot do that for ourselves. God is always concerned with the heart because it is the source of our problems. It would be a waste of His time to deal with our behavior as that is just a symptom of the sickness of the heart. Once the heart is healed, the behavior will usually resolve itself. However, we like to concentrate more on our behavior, neglecting to realize that the very behavior we are trying to change is a result of wounding in the heart. We use willpower, denial, the pursuit of excellence, busyness, alcohol, or other coping mechanisms to overcome or protect ourselves from the pain in our hearts. As we read the Word of God, we must keep in mind that most of the time He is trying to reach us on a heart level. What God is mainly concerned with is our relationship with Him. Hosea 6:6: “For I desire and delight in dutiful, steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.” He tells us that He desires obedience more than sacrifice. Obedience to what? To the great commandment which instructs us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and strength. If our hearts are permitted to remain in their wounded condition, in not too long, our relationship with God will become very distant. One of the four basic spiritual laws is that of honoring our parents. The commandment states that we are to honor them so it will go well with us. Conversely, in every area that we do not honor our parents, it will not go well with us. In Proverbs 6:20-23 it says, “My son, keep your father’s [God- given] commandment, and forsake not the law of [God] your mother [taught you]. Bind them continually upon your heart, and tie them about your neck. When you go, [the Word of your parents’ God] it shall lead you; when you sleep, it shall keep you, and when you waken, it shall talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Amplified) In Psalms, the Word is described as a lamp and a light, showing us the paths we are to walk in. But if we dishonor our parents the lamp will be put out in complete darkness. (Proverbs 20:20) A person has a hard time finding his way in the dark. When the Word of God is not illuminated to our understanding, we are not able to know what God is saying to us. We can read the word, but are unsure of what it is saying. Our hearts draw back from God, blessings are then turned away and good harvests are kept from us. (Jer. 5:23-25) It is then that a person can fall into idolatry. An idol is something we construct believing that God is in it. We begin to read the Word of God as an instruction book of do’s and don’ts, and instructions for service. We proceed to follow the instructions, believing God is in them, hoping to find Him and draw closer to Him. The responsibility then begins to fall on us to perfect our behavior, and we strive to be better Christians and perfect parents. We begin to gain our value and worth from how well we perform. We strive and strive to become more perfect, struggling under a belief that says if we just become better people, God will love us more. Once we fall into this trap, life becomes about behaving correctly so God and others will approve of us. Our society tells us that perfection is the currency of value and worth. We must be thin, we must be successful, and by no means can we get old. Our elderly population is a treasure that has been thrown aside for the myth of youth and beauty. Are we going in the wrong direction? Perhaps, but what if life is not about excellence or success or exterior acceptance? What if all this life is about is getting healed so that we can be closer to our Lord? If that is the case, then life becomes less about us and more about God, which is a more true perspective. We can welcome struggles and trials into our life because they expose what is in our heart. To quote a very famous counselor, “We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.” James said to count it all joy when we face various struggles and trials because the testing of our faith produces patience. (James 1:2-3) Patience is a characteristic of love and love is a virtue of the heart. How is healing accomplished? When we allow the Lord access to our hearts, we can then see the root causes which shape and distort the issues of life that flow from the heart. They come in the form of judgments we have made and lies that we have believed about ourselves, others, and life in general. These judgments are like colored spectacles that we see life through. If we believe life is not safe, we will strive to protect ourselves from it. If people can’t be trusted, we find ourselves alone in the world. If we were not appropriately loved and nurtured by our parents, we find it hard to bond with those we love or even understand God’s love for us. We must allow the Lord to expose those places of pain. We then forgive those who have hurt us, repent for the lies we have believed and our hearts will be healed. Is it easy for us to do that? Often it is not, but the results are worth the pain. A healed heart has no need for coping mechanisms and it produces good fruit in our lives. Out of its treasure, our mouths speak good things and the issues of life create true abundance.