EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) — Each day your heart beats more than 100,000 times. In your lifetime, your heart pumps enough blood to fill three giant supertankers.
However, you actually have two hearts.
You can feel the physical heart beating. But our other heart is invisible. It’s definitely there — the Bible refers to it more than 800 times — but it has no physical location.
This heart is spiritual, not physical. It’s where our mind, will and emotions reside. It’s the soulish side of man, different from the spirit. It is by our spirit that we are born again to God and it is by our soul (our heart) that we are born again into the person God created us to be as human beings in His image.
No wonder Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do” (NLT). Our spiritual heart deserves to be guarded more than we guard anything else in life — even our physical heart.
How many people hit the gym faithfully each week to keep their physical heart in shape but never hit their knees to care for their spiritual heart? “Cardiospiritual disease” is more rampant in our culture than cardiovascular disease.
Since the spiritual heart is invisible, how can we think of it in graphic terms — from the perspective of a beautiful painting? What kind of painting would capture the condition of your spiritual heart?
Van Gogh’s painting, The Starry Night, for example, is a reflection of the conflicted emotions that coursed through the artist’s heart at the time it was painted. Looking at The Starry Night, with a church in town he depicted, we might believe that Van Gogh retained his faith even to the end of his tortured life.
Given the difficulties of his life, if Van Gogh kept his childhood faith, he did it because he guarded his heart. If he saw the brightness of God even in a dark sky, maybe it’s because he saw what the psalmist David saw even in his darkest moments: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns'” (1 Chronicles 16:31).
What kinds of guards should we station around the borders of our heart to protect the issues of life that flow from it? How do we guard our mind, will and emotions so that, even in the darkest of nights, the art of our heart presents a canvas that proclaims, “The Lord reigns”?
There are many guards we could utilize over time. But make sure these four are positioned permanently:
— Purity. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). A clean heart is not stained by sin. We will all sin, but sin that is confessed and repented of immediately will not stain. Don’t allow impurity to defile the issues of your heart, and thus your life.
— Wholeness. David also exclaimed, “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart” (Psalm 9:1). Double-mindedness leads to instability (James 1:8). If you are not wholly committed to Christ, the portrait of your life will reveal it in time.
— Contemplation. As a shepherd alone with God, David learned to dwell upon the Lord: “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). Internalizing truth about God is how we purify the thoughts of the heart (Psalm 119:11).
— Joy. The temperament of the heart is a result of choice: “My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (Psalm 13:5). When joy guards the heart, it is impossible for discontent to creep in and tempt us to sin.
Both our hearts are gifts from God and must be cared for appropriately. As you contemplate the art of your spiritual heart, make sure you put guards in place that will eliminate all signs of cardiospiritual disease from your life.