The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
Subscribe

The heart (PDF) PDF version

The heart

The word "heart" is one of the most frequently used words in the Bible. Really, it occurs 876 times there and I thought to have a look at some of these occurrences.

1. The tree and the fruit

To start, we will go to Matthew 12:33-35. There Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 12:33-35
"A tree is known by its fruit..... For out of the abundance of the HEART the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of HIS HEART brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things"

Also Matthew 7:16-18 tells us:
"Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A GOOD TREE CANNOT BEAR BAD FRUIT, NOR CAN A BAD TREE BEAR GOOD FRUIT."

A fruit is always the result of the tree that is behind it. No fruit can be produced without a tree, and no fruit can be different than the tree that produced it. The Lord uses this figure here to tell us that what a man brings forth is the result and in direct analogy with the treasure he has in his heart. A good treasure produces good fruit, and an evil treasure produces evil fruit. As Proverbs 4:23 tells us:

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart, FOR OUT OF IT ARE THE ISSUES OF LIFE"

Out of the heart are the issues of life i.e. the results, the fruit we bring forth in our lives. The heart and what comes in it determines therefore the fruits that come out of it.

2. The Word and the fruit

Having seen that the outcome we bring forth in our lives depends on the treasure kept in our hearts, and assuming that we do all want to bring forth good fruit, we will now move ahead to see the good treasure that is appropriate for this fruit. To see it we will go to Proverbs 4:20. There God, speaking as a Father, says:

Proverbs 4:20-21
"My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayingS. Do not let them depart from your eyes; KEEP THEM IN THE MIDST OF YOUR HEART"

Our Father calls us to give ATTENTION TO HIS WORDS. TO INCLINE OUR EARS TO HIS SAYINGS. TO KEEP THEM IN THE MIDST OF OUR HEART. As we saw previously, the treasure that is in our hearts determines the fruit we bring forth in our lives. This is valid for the Word of God as well. It also brings fruit when it is kept in our heart. What kind of fruit it brings, is given in verse 21, where we read:

Proverbs 4:21-22
"KEEP THEM [the words of God] IN THE MIDST OF YOUR HEART; FOR THEY ARE LIFE TO THOSE WHO FIND THEM, AND HEALTH TO ALL THEIR FLESH."

The words of God kept in the heart are life and health. As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4

Matthew 4:4
"Man shall not LIVE by bread alone, but BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD"

Man is impossible to live without the word of God. Yet, to bring forth good fruit from the Word, he has to keep it in his heart. As Jesus again said, explaining the well known parable of the good sower.

Luke 8:11-15
"Now the parable is this: THE SEED IS THE WORD OF GOD. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away THE WORD OUT OF THEIR HEART, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life and bring NO FRUIT to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word WITH A NOBLE AND A GOOD HEART KEEPIT AND BEAR FRUIT WITH PATIENCE."

It is the Word of God heard by and kept with a noble and a good heart that gives good fruit, life abundant, exactly as God desires us to have (John 10:10).

3. God looks at the heart and wants the heart

That the Lord is interested in the heart is evident from other parts of the Word as well. Thus in I Samuel 16:7 we read:

I Samuel 16:7
"The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outer appearance but the Lord looks at the HEART."

The Lord is interested in the heart. He does not care for our outer appearance i.e. if we seem to be "good" and "godly". The Pharisees used to be like that. They seemed to be godly outwardly, yet inwardly they were hypocrites! As Jesus Christ characteristically said to them:

Luke 16:15
"And he said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, BUT GOD KNOWS YOUR HEART"

God knows the hearts of all of us, and as I Corinthians 4:5 makes clear, the day will come when the Lord "will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of THE HEARTS. Then each one’s praise will come from God." Contrary to man that cares for the outside, God cares for the inside, the heart. That’s why in Proverbs 23:26 He calls us:

Proverbs 23:26
"My son, give me YOUR HEART, and let your eyes observe my ways"

Many are ready to do various things in the name of God1. Yet what He wants is to simply give to Him our hearts. He does not want the fruit, our acts first, but the tree that makes the fruit. If the tree - our heart - is given to Him, then the fruit that will be produced will be good as it will be coming from a heart that is given to Him and is directed BY HIM.

4. "With all our heart"

From the above it should be clear that God is interested in our heart. However, as we will see, He is not only interested in it, but He also wants it in its totality. Really, starting from Matthew 22:35-38 we read:

Matthew 22:35-38
"then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing him and saying, Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God WITH ALL YOUR HEART, with all your soul, and with all your mind."

Also Deuteronomy 10:12
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, AND TO LOVE HIM, TO SERVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL"

Deuteronomy 4:29
"You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL"

Jeremiah 29:13
"YOU WILL SEEK ME AND FIND ME; WHEN YOU SEEK ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART"

Joel 2:12-13
"Now, therefore," says the Lord, "Turn to Me WITH ALL YOUR HEART...... REND YOUR HEART, AND NOT YOUR GARMENTS; RETURN TO THE LORD YOUR GOD, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."

Proverbs 3:1
"My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you......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."

We chose the above passages because of their references to "ALL the heart". God looks at and wants ALL our heart. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, to seek Him with all our heart, to serve Him with all our heart, to trust Him with all our heart, to return to Him with all our heart. As II Chronicles 6:14 says: the Lord "keeps His covenant and mercy with His servants WHO WALK BEFORE HIM WITH ALL THEIR HEART"

5. Sin: An issue of the heart

As we have seen by now, God looks at and is interested in the heart. No surprise therefore that He also considers sin as an issue of the heart. Really, in Matthew 5:27-28 we read:

Matthew 5:27-28
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery" But I say to you that whoever looks at the woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her IN HIS HEART"

This passage has troubled many and this because they connect sin with outer acts. Yet God does not do this. He connects sin with the HEART, the place where He looks at. When the evil becomes part of our heart is sin, irrespective of when and whether it will be manifested with outer acts2. As Psalms 66:18 tells us:

Psalms 66:18
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear"

And in Isaiah 59:1-2
we read: "Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear"

Sin breaks our fellowship with God, and as it may be obvious from the above, this happens at the very time that it is conceived in our hearts. That’s why it is so necessary to guard our heart. To ask God, as David did, to clean it from all iniquity (Psalms 51:9-10, 139:23-24). To check and filter what gets into it, making sure that the only that reigns there is God and His Word.

6. Conclusion.

In this article we looked at some of the passages that refer to the heart. When in the Scripture there are 876 references to the word "heart" it is obvious that it is not possible with 10 pages to cover the topic completely. However we hope that what we saw made clear the importance of the heart and the weight that God gives to it. Thus as we saw:

i. The heart is the tree on which the fruit we bring forth depends. If what we have in our heart is good then the fruit we will bring forth will also be good and conversely.

ii. The requirement for the heart to give good fruit is to keep in it the Word of God. The words of God kept there are LIFE.

iii. Since now the fruit we bring forth depends on the treasure we have in our hearts (Matthew 7:16-18) and since good fruit is given only by the one that keeps the Word of God in his heart (Luke 8:15), we can conclude that when the Word of God tells us that we should guard our hearts above all else, it does not mean that we should guard the evil treasure that may be there. This should be taken away and in its stead we should take care to always have the good treasure that is able to give good fruit and LIFE: the Word of God.

iv. The heart is the part at which God looks and which He wants us to give to Him.

v. He wants us to love Him with all our heart

vi. To serve Him with all our heart

vii. To seek Him with all our heart

viii. When we deviate from His ways, to return to Him with all our heart

ix. To trust in him with all our heart

x. Finally we saw that sin is an issue of the heart and therefore as such should be faced.

May therefore deliver all our heart to our Father, as He calls us. As the Lord said:

John 15:4-8
"Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I’m the vine, you are the branches. HE WHO ABIDES IN ME AND I IN HIM BEARS MUCH FRUIT; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. BY THIS MY FATHER IS GLORIFIED, THAT YOU BEAR MUCH FRUIT;"

 

Anastasios Kioulachoglou

 

 

 



Footnotes

1. However, not necessary originated by His spirit!

2. As we have already seen, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:33), and "A good man out of the good treasure of HIS HEART brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matthew 12:35). Sooner or later, the evil treasure will give the respective fruits. .