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The Heart of the Matter

I went to church this morning, as I have done most Sundays for the past sixteen years. The pastor was talking about our hearts and their importance for our lives. It’s interesting but not surprising that God was already talking to me about mine today, since I certainly have some heart issues. But that is not the only reason that God was talking to me about hearts. You see, the human heart is of the utmost importance to God, and in one way or another it unifies entire Bible.

If you don’t believe there is a God, or if you don’t believe the Bible is God’s word, I encourage you to read on anyway. Hopefully, somewhere in my ranting you will find some wisdom.

However, before we go too far with this discussion we need to figure out what exactly we mean by heart. In this context it is our true self. Our hearts are not really separate from our minds, but add in a little passion, some emotion, and a dash of spirit for spice. Who we really are is in our hearts, and although they are hidden from people, our surface actions point to them. From the heart our will is expressed. We make decisions from our hearts. It is the center all that we do and all we are. Actions follow our will, and our will is “resident” in our heart.

Let me give you an example. Proverbs 30:31 says this, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Now ostensibly, this passage is in reference to women. However, the truth of the matter is that it applies to us all, both women and men. This one short sentence shows two characteristics. The first is one of deceit and vanity. The second is one of a reverence for God.

To be vain is to have an empty, valueless, and inflated pride about yourself. Much like conceit, it is strongly self-focused. Yet, vanity is the result of something else. It is the product of something deeper. A vain person will puff himself up in his own eyes.

Have you ever stopped to ask why people do this? Is it a fluke, or just part of their nature? Did the environment play a part? Where they born that way? Part of it must be that they(read we) are concerned deeply about how other people see them. It is profoundly about how we perceive the way people perceive us. It like comes from an inner sense of insecurity.

In other words it’s a heart issue.

There is something that has a grip on the vain person’s heart that causes this behavior, and to varying degrees it will result in a failed relationships. People begin to avoid a vain person and drift away. A gap forms between them simply because the heart is in the grip of a need for approval.

So, here’s the point. If we don’t take care of our hearts we put ourselves at risk. Not only that, but you will never be able to stop lying, cheating, being vain, committing adultery, coveting or anything else until you do some real business with God about the root cause of those behaviors. This is, of course, why the church exists. And it is, without a question, the reason the church is full of people who can, at best, be called hypocrites.

We all have heart issues. Psalm 51 says in part, “create in me a clean heart.” Do you have the courage to pray Psalm 26:2? It says this, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart.”

In this, the new year, we will be unable to fulfill any of our resolutions, and our personal life goals will go completely unrealized unless we pay heed to whatever it is that has a grip on our hearts. We will be unable to stop overeating, or drinking, or smoking, or spending more than we make, or anything else until we do some deep business.

My challenge to anyone reading this is to first examine your heart. Don’t beat yourself up emotionally, but really take some time to ask what the real issues are that drive you to do the things you want to change.

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