NEW SERIES: A HEALTHY HEART
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Much has been done in recent years to alert people to the importance of caring for our hearts as physical organs, particularly in regard to diet and exercise. And the symptoms of seriously poor heart-health such as chest pains, shortness of breath, excessive sweating or changes in skin colour, are recognised by the population at large.
In the same way, we need to monitor the health of our hearts in the biblical sense; just as chest pains can be an indicator of a serious physical heart problem, so what flows into our thoughts, out of our mouths, and through our actions shows the condition of the inner man.
Jesus said it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come
– sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
All these evils come from inside and defile a person.
Perhaps we’re not troubled with thoughts of violence, theft or sexual immorality, but what about irritation, worry or shame? Maybe we don’t battle with fits of rage, profanity or malice, but maybe what comes out of our mouths is negativity, grumbling or criticism? Perhaps we have never drunk too much alcohol, stolen or been physically abusive; but maybe we are impatient listeners, continually self-deprecating, or battling an addiction?
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.
[Luke 6:45 NKJV]
Some of us have been displaying these habits for so many years, we hardly notice them any more. But just as physical heart disease has an effect on the health of our whole body, so does spiritual heart disease affect not only our physical health, but our general well-being—for from from it 'spring the issues of life'.
We have been blessed with new hearts which need nurturing [Ezekiel 36:25-27; Philippians 4:8]. But old habits and thought patterns linger on and pull us down; the Evil One leaps on them and whispers in our ears that nothing has changed; these aberrations are who we really are, the old nature is still alive and kicking.
But these are lies: these diseased patterns of thinking, speaking and acting are no longer the real person, they are not the believer's true identity; for we have been bought with a price, translated from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God, and made brand new. However, we do need to take steps to deal with these old habits which stop us walking in our new identity.
ALIGN YOUR THINKING
What comes out of us in thought, word or deed reveals whether our hearts are diseased or healthy. But to accurately measure this we need a gauge or yardstick; and that of course is God’s standard, expressed in Scripture, and supremely in Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
[John 1: 1,14]
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;
tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
[Deuteronomy 11: 18]
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you…
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
[Psalm 119:11, 105]
For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Anything which is not in line with God’s standard signals the need for repentance. And the core meaning of the Greek word for repentance is to change your mind. Repentance in essence is to align your way of thinking with God, and from that alignment will flow right speech and action.
Therefore, not only is Scripture the revelation of God’s perfect standard, and the gauge of the condition of our hearts, it also tops the list of the best heart-food available. By feeding on it and storing it up inside we produce a treasure trove from which right thoughts, actions and speech will flow.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things,
and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
[Matthew 12:35 NKJV]
It seems we cannot afford to neglect this storing up of the Word. Our brand-new hearts need feeding with the right food. Remembering that our hearts are the wellspring of life, feeding regularly on this prescribed health-food is essential to our well-being.
And when we find evidence of disease?
Non-alignment is sin. We need to face up to it and confess it as such. No excuses.
But He is faithful and just to forgive me my sin
and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
[1 John 1:9]
We then need to start declaring the truth of what He says over our lives and circumstances.
THIS WEEK'S GRACE RHYTHM: A HEALTHY-HEART CHECK
Then speak over yourself these truths:
NB. If you always feel you are falling short, and would like to read more, please see MISSING THE MARK: OVERCOMING GUILT AND SHAME
NEXT WEEK: DEFEATING THE ACCUSER
So many of us live feeling guilty: not just about the things we’ve done, the identifiable sins, but the things we haven’t, the omissions and neglected intentions. And then there’s our mistakes and failures; the recurrent shortfall. We so want to be like Jesus, yet so often miss the mark. And into that circumstance comes the Accuser. His insinuations, relentless and condemnatory try to tell us who we are—and who we never can be...
OVER TO YOU...
[Photo credits: Chang Duong (heart-shape); Ben White (man reading Bible); James Lee (bird ornaments)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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