Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The body in the Bible: what comes from the heart?    (9/23/2012 )

The heart has become a very clichéd part of the body, hasn’t it? The shape of a heart, which we’re accustomed to seeing on greetings cards, bears little relation to a real human heart. Yet we associate it with love of all kinds — romantic for our partners, parental love for our children, and even love for our pets or favourite sports team!. We even celebrate the love-heart on Valentine’s Day.

When you think about it, this is a little strange. After all, the heart is basically a pump — sending our blood, carrying oxygen and important nutrients, to the furthest reaches of our bodies. Perhaps it’s because the heart is seen as so essential to life that it’s connected in our minds to love, which we probably also see as essential to life.

When things go wrong for us, we say we are ‘heartsick’, or we have a ‘broken heart’, and we might say ‘I love you with all my heart’ (which surely means ‘I love you with both of my ventricles and my left and right auricle, too, plus the valves’ — but that doesn’t sound quite so romantic).

So it might come as quite a surprise to hear these words of Jesus:

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

However, if we see the heart as the place where love and passion spring from (however unlikely this is in an anatomical sense!), perhaps this isn’t so surprising. Wherever our strongest positive emotions are brewed and stored is surely where our most negative emotions come from, too. Let’s face it, humans are capable of some horrible things, in both thought and action.

I hope most of us can honestly say, “Well, I’ve never killed anyone!”, but when it some to “I’m not a thief, and I’ve never cheated on my partner!”, we have to start thinking about whether we’ve done these things on a smaller scale.

At some stage, many of us have probably helped ourselves to a little something we shouldn’t (like being creative with our taxes or our expenses, or taking home some office stationery). Many of us will have flirted with someone in a way we wouldn’t do if our partner was present, and many of us look at other people in the street and think, ‘Wow, s/he is very attractive!” After all, Jesus does say: “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” — and that goes for the reverse of the genders, too!

Jesus suggests that while we may enjoy all the good things that come from the human heart, we must remember that it’s just as capable of causing great harm — to ourselves, to our relationships with others, and our relationship with God.

OK, so it may not really be the heart which produces these strong emotions within us. But wherever they come from, we can use them for good and for evil — so we need to take great care. Remaining in conversation with God, and taking Jesus as our example, will help us to keep our eyes fixed on good.

Pray: Lord, thank you for the heart that beats inside me, keeping me alive. Help me to remember that sin can kill in other ways, and help me to use my 'heart' for love, not hate. Amen.

Think about: The heart is a very powerful pump. In which other ways is it powerful?

Challenge: Was there anything in Jesus' list that struck a chord with you, because you know it's something you do? (Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander). If so, bring these things to God in prayer, and ask for help in stopping the habit.

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