Have you ever noticed in reading through the Gospels how much consideration Jesus gives to the human heart? The central theme of the story of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic is how
“He knew in His spirit…what they were thinking in their hearts.” | Mark 2:8
He knew the thoughts and motives of His critics, but also those of the paralyzed man, to whose unspoken desire Jesus responded.
Indeed, Jesus startles His listeners when He says that what condemns us is what comes “out of the heart.” Compliance with the law and religious observance mean nothing if the heart’s motives and purposes are set on human approval or self-congratulation rather than on God. We can only please God and be free if He is the object of our heart’s greatest love.
In ancient times, the great human struggle was between the mind (which they believed resided in the soul) and the passions (which they believed resided in the body). If you wanted to possess wisdom, boldness and self-confidence, you needed to learn to control the emotions by way of reason.
For us, the struggle is the reverse. We embrace our deepest feelings as the essence of who we really are and struggle when we restrain or deny them. The great human struggle in America is between the emotions and a repressive society that so often stands in the way of self-expression and realization.
The Bible teaches neither of the above. It says the human struggle happens within the human heart. The main human struggle is not between the heart and something else, but amongst the desires that pull it in different directions. The great battle is deciding where your heart’s greatest love, hope, and trust will be directed.
The “heart” to most of us means the emotions, but the Bible also says our thinking comes from the heart. The heart is used as a symbol for the seat of our deepest commitments — what we trust the most, what we most love and hope in, what we most treasure, what captures our imagination. Every heart has something it is directed towards. The direction of the heart, then, controls everything — our thinking, feeling, decisions, and actions. What we most love we find reasonable, desirable, and doable.
Whatever we cherish
in our hearts most
C O N T R O L S
the whole person.
No wonder Jesus is so concerned about our hearts. No wonder God ignores outward appearance and looks singularly at the heart.
We always, in the end, do what the heart wants the most.
You can’t change this by just deciding to change your thinking, or through your own will, but rather by changing the object of your desire. Change happens not only by reminding yourself of well-versed truths, but also by allowing yourself to dig deeper into the Word of God so that you see and love Him most supremely.
We change when we change
what we worship the most.
How do we do that? By seeing the heart of God through the Good News of the Gospel – by realizing the truth that Jesus’ own heart was crushed and broken as He died on the Cross for each one of us.