With Every Beat of Your Heart
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart is the organ that supplies blood and oxygen to all parts of the body making it one of the most important organs in the entire human body. It is about the size of a clenched fist, weighs between 7 and 15 ounces (200 to 425 grams), and is shaped like a cone. It is located between the lungs in the middle of the chest, behind and slightly to the left of the breastbone (sternum). A double-layered membrane called the pericardium surrounds your heart like a sack.
The heart is really nothing more than a pump. It is composed of muscle which pumps blood throughout the body distributing essential nutrients throughout the body and carrying away waste products to keep us fresh and comfortable. Blood is pumped away from the heart through arteries and returns to the heart through veins. If the heart ever ceases to pump blood the body begins to shut down and after a very short period of time will die. Like any other muscle in the human body, the heart contracts and expands.
Unlike skeletal muscles, however, the heart works on the “All -or-Nothing Law”. That is, each time the heart contracts it does so with all its force. It beats approximately 72 times per minute. By the end of a long life, a person’s heart may have beaten (expanded and contracted) more than 3.5 billion times, without ever pausing to rest. Infect, each day, the average heart beats 100,000 times, pumping about 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood. Like a pumping machine, the heart provides the power needed for life.
The Use of the Word “Heart” in Scripture
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” ( Psalm 73:26).
The word heart appears in the King James Version of the Bible some 830 times – 725 times in the Old Testament and 105 times in the New Testament. As used in Scriptures, the heart is more than just the organ that pumps blood through the body. It is a metaphor for a person’s innermost core or spiritual center. When the Scriptures speak of the heart, they are speaking of the total person or one’s whole soul. God sees, tests, and searches the hidden depths of the human heart. One who has a “pure heart “lives a life that is directed and devoted totally and unreservedly to God.
In the Old Testament, the phrase “hardness of heart” not only refers to the enemies of God’s people, like Pharaoh in Egypt, but it also refers to God’s people – Israel. In the New Testament it describes not only the scribes and Pharisees, but the disciples as well. A hard-hearted person is self-centered, typically prideful, stubborn, and resistant to what
God wants to do in his life. Thus, it is deep below the surface of our lives that God begins a work of renewing grace in us. The real action is rooted deep in the heart.
In Mark 6: 45-52 we read of an account where the phrase “hardness of heart” is used in reference to the disciples. The disciples had just witnessed the feeding of 5,000 with only five loaves and two fishes and the gathering of twelve baskets full of fragments and fishes afterwards. This is the account as recorded by Mark:
45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.
46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.
48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out:
50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
What Type of Heart Do We Have?
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9.10).
What type of heart do we have? Do we have pure hearts that seek after doing those things which the Lord has called us to do with willingness and gladness? Do we have a desire to live our lives completely directed by and dedicated to God’s will? Or, do we have hardened hearts? Are we self-centered and unreceptive to the will of God, believing that our own way is the best way?
Charles Dickens once said, “A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” And Sarah Ban Breathnach once said, “Whatever we are willing for–peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance–it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”
Having a pure heart brings with it the blessings of the Lord, whereas having a hardened heart pronounces a curse upon one’s own life. A hardhearted person lives a life that is full of misery, disparity, and woe. This is illustrated in the case of the captivity of Judah as recorded in Jeremiah 17:1-8:
1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;
2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.
3 0 my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.
4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.
5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.
6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
The Heart of the Matter
Everything that we do in life is a matter of the heart. Whatever we have a heart’s desire to do is normally what we will do, whether it be right or wrong. Our actions are governed by the type of heart that we have and the intents of that heart. The Lord judges us by the intents of our hearts. He reminds us in Jeremiah 17:9-10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” And we are reminded in Matthew 6: 19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
I leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.