The Heart Of The Matter

I’ve recounted before about the music gene that runs in our family, coupled with an “Arkansas” background of kinfolk who would get together after supper for a great family time of playing instruments and singing. And when I start to think that this common practice in the south is a thing of the past, I see a family on T.V. that looks like a throwback to my childhood. Mommy and Daddy with all the kids performing like pros. And while all of our kids (adults now) inherited the music gene, we didn’t raise them with that being a regular part of family life. That I regret.

I just talked with one of my younger sister’s recently and she asked me if I was still playing my guitar. I told her that the page had been turned closing the guitar chapter in my life (my, my, how corny). Our conversation was cut short and resumed the next day. In the meantime she had talked with our youngest sister and told her she was feeling bad that I wasn’t playing anymore. The reply was not to feel bad since whether I played or not wouldn’t affect her life. The answer to that was her feeling bad was not for herself, but for me since I would deprive myself of something that brought so much joy all my life.

I had to agree that she was speaking from her heart and for that I was grateful. I did explain that while I was not active in public playing (with church groups) I did pick it up now and then for my own enjoyment. That got me thinking about music being the first artistic expression since the voice is the original instrument and everyone can play it, sort of. Music speaks to the soul in ways few things are able, and while it can be a “heady” experience for the pro, it is mostly a heart experience. Few things bring us to tears easier than music. In fact, while many of life experiences can be “heady,” the most meaningful in all areas though are “matters of the heart.”

Of the two sisters, one was logic, and one was heart. The Bible describes a person as consisting of body, soul and spirit. The soul is comprised of mind, will and emotions while the spirit is that inner reality that does or does not respond to, and connect with, God. In redemption, God’s Spirit witnesses with my spirit if indeed I am a child of God. Throughout the Bible, the nature of man is often referred to, in whole or part, interchangeably, as “heart.” That is also an important part of every person’s current vocabulary. The athlete taps his chest to say, “I win because I have heart.” The common heart picture often replaces the word love, as in “I ‘heart’ you.” “The heart of the matter,” gets to the very core. There are many other examples.

Probably the majority of meaningful human interaction involves “heart” activity, even in high levels of political, business and education. The stoicism of intellectual inquiry disengaged from emotion only goes so far before boredom sets in and the eye-lid fight begins. However, when energy, excitement, entertainment and fire-in-the-belly rhetoric ensues, the “heart” is involved and we seem to pay attention. And while the Bible has a lot to say about the heart, it also places the “mind” in an important role, even though mental activity will get lumped in with “heart” activity. The Bible is clear that in conversion our spirit connects with God as we repent, accept and place our faith in Christ’s work on the cross. It involves all of who we are, spirit, mind, will, emotions or to sum it up our “heart” is changed. Forever.

One of the most amazing effects of real Christian conversion is when the indwelling Spirit of God begins to reveal our heart to us. The psychology maxim to “know self and others,” only goes so far with the natural heart and mind. To know ones own “heart” fully is not possible without the Spirit of God’s revealing. It happens over time as we read the Bible and allow the Living Word, Jesus, to provide the truth of whom we really are. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Now, that should sound appealing to most thoughtful folks and seems like a sure formula, but it is not so easy. There are even “men of the cloth,” of whom we all know some, who behave and speak like they’ve got it all figured out. People watch and listen and detect all sorts of self centered, ulterior motives coming out of a “heart” that is unknown even to them. How is that possible? The Bible, again, is clear: “The heart is deceitful and beyond all cure, who can understand it” (Jer. 17:9)? Only the Spirit of God can reveal our heart to us, and rare, if ever, is the person who lives continually in that revelation. Self-deception always seems to be right around the corner for most of us. Our only hope is complete dependence on God’s truth and presence, coupled with the wise and Godly counsel of our Christians friends.

Only when we can get a glimpse of our “real heart,” can we then understand the pride keeping us from fully repenting of our rebellion. But, the good news is, regardless of where we are in the process, the grace of God cleanses us from all unrighteousness and will present us to God clothed in the righteousness of Christ if we so choose. Getting glimpses of our heart now and then is a great liberating work of God.

So, what is it, head or heart? Well, both, really. But if we have heart, the head will follow, right? Like the old pop song goes: “Oh, you gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart…”

















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