Just this morning I had to chauffer someone to the hospital for their routine checkup with the doctor. As I was sitting in the waiting area, I was reading through some fearsome and uncomfortable statistics on the wall about heart disease. They said that in the United States the leading cause of death for both men and women is heart disease. It said that every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. The estimate is that over 1 in every 4 deaths is because of heart disease. It wasn’t just warning signs on the walls and pamphlets but also some instructions on what you can do to keep a healthy heart. So my question is what about your spiritual heart?
The spiritual heart has many similarities to the physical heart. Just as the blood in a physical heart is composed of different nutrients taken from the food its owner consumes, so the life in a person’s spiritual heart is composed of what he consumes through eye gate, ear gate, mouth gate, and their thought life.
The physical heart is more prone to some forms of heart disease and attack on a high-fat diet, in an overweight body. Likewise, the spiritual heart is more prone to spiritual sickness as we take in rich truths from the Bible without practicing them and making them an active part of our life.
I’m reminded of Josiah in the Bible. In 2 Kings 23:25 it reads, “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him”. Now Josiah, whose name means, “supported of Yahweh.” was a man of destiny for a specific time. He was a great leader, a zealous reformer, reviver of the people, re-discoverer of God’s word, responder to God and a righteous man. He lived in evil times yet he led a nation back to God. What stands out from this verse is about his heart.
Josiah had a heart that wanted to do what was right in God’s sight. He had a healthy spiritual heart. He wanted to live with right habits and principles and walk on a right pathway. He refused to deviate from his path or compromise his standards. His heart was pure. Purity means being free from sin or moral wrong; free from mixture, defilement or contamination. A pure life is one that is set apart to God completely, unmixed with the beliefs, attitudes and passions of this world. It is a life without mixture – a life that is 100 percent God’s.
We have several scriptures that give us instruction regarding the heart.
#1: The heart is the very source of all your attitudes and actions. Proverbs 4:23 admonishes to “guard your heart more than any treasure, for it is the source of all life” (New English Bible). Whatever is in your heart will reflect the way you treat others.
#2: The heart is the source of all that you minister or speak. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus teaches, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Each person is in charge of the storehouse of their own heart, which is full of either good or bad treasures. Ask yourself if you are proud of the contents of the storehouses in your heart, because from them, you work with others. Put God’s word in your heart and His words will flow out of you.
#3: The unguarded heart is a source of defilement. Jesus cautioned that the unguarded heart of a leader can become the starting place of a long list of dangerous, destructive, and wicked things (Mark 7:14-23). When your heart is left unguarded, it is dangerously vulnerable to pride that can erode you and in turn, your people.
We live in a day when it is common to hear that someone had their heart broken because their beloved team lost a close game. Or perhaps someone fell out of love with someone and had their heart broken. Every week we can see episodes where people give their heart to a new lover in a TV drama series. More than anyone God is after your heart. The scripture that I like most regarding the heart is found Proverbs 23:26, “My Son, give me your heart”.
Why is this? In Ezekiel 36:26-28 we find there are four reasons:
1. He wants our hearts in order to Exchange it
In Ezekiel 36:26 the Lord says, “I will give you a new heart… I will remove from you your heart of stone”! This is the message of the gospel, and if we ask why we need a new heart, the answer is that verse 25 tells us that our heart is unclean and verse 26 tells us that it is hard, and therefore cold. In exchange God offers us a heart that is clean, true, tender and warm. Notice he does not offer to patch up the old heart (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you have not done so, will you give Him your old heart and let Him give you His new one?
2. He wants our hearts in order to Empower it
In Ezekiel 36:27 the Lord says, “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws”. God gives us a new piece of machinery within but He also gives us the power to drive the machinery. We cannot be moved to follow His decrees on our own, but God will enable us to do this by the indwelling Person and presence of the Holy Spirit. This is what the Christian life is all about; we cannot live it; but God says He will come and dwell within us so that we walk in ways that please Him.
3. He wants our hearts in order to Establish it
In Ezekiel 36:28 God says, “You will live in the land…” The primary reference in these words is to Israel’s restoration. For years the Jews have been scattered over the earth but the Bible promises that in the end they will all go back to their own land to live there. All that is a parable for us. Our hearts have been wanderers over the earth and there has been nowhere to rest; but God says, ’Give me your heart and I will cause it to live in the land; I will establish it’.
4. He wants our hearts in order to Enrich it
In Ezekiel 36:28 God says, “You will be my people, and I will be your God”. This is too wonderful to be true because, if I am His and He is mine, how rich I am! Look at Ezekiel 36:29-30 and note that God promises to provide the corn, the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field - in other words, your needs will be met according to His riches and glory. [Philippians 4:19]