Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. (Ps. 86:11)
Jesus replied, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt 22:37-8)
. . . purify your hearts, you double-minded. (Jas. 4:8)
.. . . be filled with the Spirit . . . Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5: 18-19)
Throughout Scripture, God has a lot to say about the state of our hearts. When asked to name the greatest commandment, Jesus pointed to the need to love God wholeheartedly. David asked God for the gift of an undivided heart. James, in his no-nonsense way, called for those whose allegiance was divided to purify their hearts.
“Heart” is a metaphor for the essence of who I am, what I believe, how I react and how I want to respond. It encompasses my personality, emotions, and goals. I make room in my heart for the people and things that are of greatest importance to me. When any of these are in direct conflict, I feel torn apart. As long as my heart is divided by what He wants and what I want, I can’t function spiritually as God intended.
Loving God with all my heart doesn’t mean I can’t love anyone else. Giving God first place doesn’t mean nothing else is important. What is does mean is that God is the overriding power that brings the other relationships and activities in my life into their fullest functioning for good. Under God, the different parts of my heart — my life — can work in harmony, much as the human heart does.
My physical heart is divided into four chambers: two upper and two lower. These in turn are divided by muscular walls into two sides. The upper and lower chambers on the right side pump oxygen-depleted blood into the lungs to be recharged. The re-energized oxygen-rich blood from the lungs then returns to the chambers on the left side, where they are pumped to the rest of the body.
Each of the heart chambers is equipped with a valve to regulate the flow of blood. The valves open to allow blood to go where it should, and close to prevent it from going in the wrong direction.
The heart has a conduction system made up of tissue that sets the heart rate and enables the upper and lower chambers to talk to each other so they can work together for optimal results. It’s an amazing fist-sized organ that reveals a lot about spiritual well-being.
God’s Word is the lifeblood of my spirit, and taking that Word to heart allows my valves to operate as they were intended, keeping me going in the right direction. Its truth creates an electrical charge that helps regulate my conduct. It helps me set the right pace — not too fast and not too slow — to meet whatever comes. (I don’t believe God ever wants us to move at a frantic pace as our norm.)
God’s Word keeps me in communication with Him and prompts me to respond to Him in prayer. it also keeps me in touch with my inner self — my fears, failures and frustrations; my hopes, needs and strengths. It points me to the Holy Spirit within me, who comforts, guides, and prays for me when I’m too depleted to form the words.
The Spirit is the lungs of the operation: He’s the oxygen that takes the used-up blood and pours the pure air of God’s presence into it. So much fatigue and depression, that feeling of slogging through the mud, comes from a tendency to shallow breathing. Tired spiritual blood often leads to tired living. Breathing deeply of the Word energized by communing with the Holy Spirit not only invigorates my spirit, but my mind and body. I emerge cleansed, enriched and enabled to do His will. All parts of my personality can then work in harmony toward their full potential.
When this happens, regardless of circumstances, I can sing the music that praises God: the most beautiful, healing and hope-filled music there is or ever will be.