Get to the Heart of It
Today, I'm coming to you with another scripture reading plan, yay! This time, it's about the human heart. We've all got one. And God wants to help us understand it.
After reading these scriptures, one thing stood out more than anything: God is way more concerned with my heart than my behavior.
Why is that? Because, as a general rule, my heart will steer my behavior. When my behavior is, shall we say, unruly, chances are there's something deeper going on, and that's the issue He cares about most of all.
God does want me to change my bad behavior and line it up with His commandments — but He doesn't want me to do it like a robot or a slave. He needs me to align my heart first and foremost, and then my behavior will follow.
Let's look at a scenario of "good behavior, bad heart." I can put up a false front of righteousness, but God isn't pleased with good behavior if my motivation for doing it doesn't come from a pure heart. Nobody may ever know that my heart is filled with self-pride while I'm doing some good work for the church, but God sees it.
On the flip side, let's observe a "bad behavior, good heart" illustration, which, in my opinion, is less common than the previous example. If I have pure intentions, but I accidentally say something hurtful to someone when I'm trying to say something helpful, for example, God sees that my heart was in the right place. (That doesn't mean I don't have to make amends with that person.)
In Luke 6, Christ explains that a good tree can't bear bad fruit and vice versa. That's because the outward springs from the inner. Proverbs 4:23 famously says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Basically, everything I do flows from my heart, whether my motives are transparent or hidden. So, the heart, as the fountainhead, must be kept pure, or … I'm spewing muddy water.
Have you ever had your heart set on something? Whether it's a job you want or just, say, a flavor of ice cream you want, when your heart is set on it, you go for it. The heart motivates us to act.
Have you ever let your heart wander away from God in a certain area of life — I'll let you use your imagination here. At first, you only occasionally let that thought or that word or that action happen — and your heart feels guilty every time. Then, you give way more and more frequently. It doesn't take long for your heart to become set on that wrong thing. Even when it's a slow process, the heart still motivates action. No wonder the proverb says to protect and guard our hearts with utmost care.
The good news is that our hearts can also motivate us to positive action! When it's set on the right things, our heart can lead us, and we can "follow" it, as we're often told to do. When it's not, we have to lead it until we're back on track.
The heart is an awesome topic for scripture study. I really hope you enjoy this reading plan. It's 21 days, but you can go at any pace you'd like. There are the usual reflection questions for you to use, or not. May the word of God bring your heart blessing upon blessing.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.