When I turned seven I decided I wanted to be a heart surgeon more than anything else in the world. I found an anatomical picture of a human heart in an old textbook, traced it on notebook paper, and put that drawing on my bedroom door as a constant reminder—I still have that sketch today. I’ll never forget spending literally hours in the cadaver lab studying, memorizing, and marveling at such a phenomenal creation. Over the years my career choices changed, but I still retain a deep passion for the human heart. While man has tried to create a substitute or an artificial heart—our efforts have truly paled in comparison to God’s original model.
The word heart appears in the Bible hundreds of times in both the Old and New Testaments. However, in the English language the word heart rarely means the cardiovascular pump within your chest cavity. Instead, it is almost always referring to the essence of man—your inner being. When someone says, “Follow your heart” they are not talking literally about following the organ that pumps blood.
While your anatomical heart is vital to your earthly existence, your inner heart reveals who you really are, and who you have chosen to follow— and gives a good indication of where you will spend eternity. The world is quick to toss around the word heart in phrases like: Trust your heart. Believe with all your heart. Follow your heart.
In other words, trust in yourself. But the Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Son of God said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). If this organ is so wicked, what is a Christian to do?
The answer should be obvious. A serious examination of your heart will reveal it is sick and needs to be transplanted. We read, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 36:26). God stands ready to give you a new heart if you are willing to give up the old one. This is a part of putting on the “new man” (Colossians 3) in an effort to cleanse the inner man.
Many people have bought into the humanistic teaching that man is not so bad, and thus, they bristle at the thought of needing to cleanse their heart. Rather than embracing a heart transplant and the desire for a new heart, they would rather allow their hearts to become calloused and hardened like the Pharaoh in Egypt (Exodus). The Apostle Paul warned, “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” (Romans 2:5).
Solomon delivered this fitting piece of wisdom regarding the heart: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life,” (Proverbs 4:23). The inspired Psalmist declared, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10). This should be the cry of every human on the planet, because only then can we truly, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What does your heart look like? What shape is it in? Our society has trained most people to look primarily upon external features. Many young people idolize reality stars that “look” good but are living ungodly lives. Christians should always remember, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
When God looks into your heart does He see a servant who desperately wants to serve Him, or does He see someone who is wanting to be in control of his or her own life, giving God the leftovers of time and money? Does He see words and thoughts of kindness and compassion, or does He see harsh words and a mean spirit? The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). If you haven’t had a heart transplant let me strongly encourage you to schedule your surgery immediately. Isn’t it time you got rid of that old diseased heart and received a new heart that is pure and ready to serve Him?
By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
This article first appeared in the July 2013 issue of “Think” magazine.