A Springtime Heart Checkup
How’s your heart? I trust it is more cheerful with the prospect of Spring, but it is a good spiritual discipline to stop and consider the direction we are being driven by our goals and desires.
Biblically speaking, the heart is about much more than our emotions. That old head / heart distinction that we use wouldn’t make sense to the ancients. Consider Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Hearts do not take care of themselves. They need tending and guidance. Why? First, our hearts are wicked and deceptive on their own (Jeremiah 17:9). Also, everything else flows from our hearts. Neglect your heart, neglect your life.
The heart is the center of our reason and will. Affections (what we would call “heart” today) are a part of this. Keeping our heat means being conscious of the direction of our will, driven by conviction, and based on knowledge. The heart is the center of a man, the center of his intellect and his ethics – it is what makes a man what he is. For one who knows God, this heart will desire to be yielded to God and be conformed to His will. This comes from the knowledge of God, which he reveals to us by His Word and Spirit.
When we are told to keep our hearts, it doesn’t mean to simply keep our temper and our passions in check. It means to apply ourselves to understanding God and learning his wisdom. The heart is the whole person, subject to God and worshipping God in everything. Heart keeping is tied to knowledge, faith and submission to God’s will. Guarding it is a matter of worship and spiritual discipline.
Consider also Romans 12:1-2.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Although these verses don’t mention the word “heart,” this is as good a description of what heart-keeping looks like as we will find in Scripture. What is good, true, reasonable and desirable to the natural person is quite different than what is good, true, reasonable and desirable to the person who is being transformed by the renewing of their mind.
I have been thinking about these heart matters lately as I reflect on my mixed feelings about our departure from Calvary Grace. We like our house. We like Calgary. We love Calvary Grace. We will miss being here. Why am I leaving? It’s not a merely emotional decision. I do believe that God is calling me – and us – to this new chapter for his glory and for the good of his church. We covet your prayers and count on seeing you at conferences, when we come and visit, and when you come and visit us!
For all of us, God says, “Guard and keep your heart.” Why do you do what you do? Why do you love what you love? Check these directions and desires by the light of the Word and the fellowship of God’s people. Keep up with spiritual disciplines. Grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then he will give you the desires of your heart (2 Peter 3:18 and Psalm 37:4).