2 April, 2023

The Heart of the Matter

by | 6 February, 2023 | 0 comments

By Doug Redford 

The most familiar symbol of Valentine’s Day is the heart. The word heart is used numerous times in the Bible, not usually to describe the physical heart that pumps blood throughout the body, but rather to describe the part of a person that reasons and thinks, particularly in spiritual and moral matters. 

Consider the first two uses of heart in the Bible. The first is in Genesis 6:5, which sets the stage for the flood: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” A clear case of chronic heart trouble! 

Heart occurs again in the next verse, and the usage is quite different: “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled” (v. 6). God created human beings in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). A part of that involves humans possessing a heart, spiritually and morally speaking, that is meant to “beat” in tune with God’s. That heart should have turned away from evil instead of embracing evil and making it the center of attention. God’s heart responded to the pervasiveness of evil as only a holy God must: with the judgment of the flood. 

The human heart, however, has remained stubborn in its defiance of God and his ways. The prophet Jeremiah’s diagnosis is as accurate now as ever: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). There are exceptions, thankfully; David, for instance, is called “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet even he, as Scripture points out, was not a perfect man; and he at one point pleaded with God for a “re-created” heart (Psalm 51:10).  

The far greater son or descendant of David, Jesus the Messiah, was perfect, which qualified him to become the sinless sacrifice necessary to provide the solution to humanity’s heart condition. Jesus himself was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also God after man’s heart: God becoming flesh (John 1:14) and coming after man in love and compassion, with a desire to reverse the curse of sin. 

As we take the emblems of Communion, we may want to make the repentant prayer of David ours: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). And let’s remember that our Great Physician is available any time through the week to help us address any signs of heart trouble. 

Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Now retired, he continues to write and speak as opportunities come. 

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