Skip to content ↓

What Can a Heart Do?

What Can a Heart Do

What can a heart do? What actions do we associate with the human heart? A heart can beat; a heart can race; a heart can stop. That’s all very literal and speaks to the heart as a physical part of our bodies. But we also speak of the heart metaphorically as the place of our emotions. And so we say that a heart can long and love, it can hurt and break. We even say that a heart can be given: “I give you my heart.” The heart, then, in our way of thinking, is physical and emotional.

But then how does the Bible use “heart?” Did you know that the New Testament uses the word “heart” well over a hundred times, but never once to refer to the organ in your chest? It only ever uses it as a metaphor, as a word picture. So what can the heart do according to the Bible?

I looked up all the uses in the New Testament and came up with a list: A heart can think, a heart can understand, a heart can desire, a heart can speak; a heart can doubt or believe, it can love or hate, it can repent or remain impenitent. A heart can be dull or sharp, hard or soft, open or closed, downcast or refreshed, right or wrong, sincere or hypocritical, pure or impure. The heart can have longings and secrets and intentions and purposes. It can produce good or evil, it can be filled by the Holy Spirit or by Satan, it can stay near to God or stray far from him. And though that list is quite long, it accounts for only the New Testament which represents merely 15 percent of the times the word is used throughout the Bible.

So, in the way the biblical authors thought, the heart is far more than emotion. It’s the place our actions originate. It’s the place our thoughts and words originate, as well as our intentions and motives, our convictions and worship. The heart is the place of affection and emotion and reason from which we issue orders to the rest of our faculties.

We will not do anything or say anything or even desire anything without the heart first issuing the order.

You might say the heart is the controller for the drone. That drone will sit there and do nothing until you touch a dial or knob. And then it will respond, then it will obey the commands it is given. You might say the heart is the mission control center at NASA that tells the astronauts when to blast off and when to touch down. We will not do anything or say anything or even desire anything without the heart first issuing the order. None of our abilities or faculties operate independently of the heart.

The heart, then, is the place where God’s influence comes into contact with man’s will to be accepted or rejected, to be obeyed or disobeyed. This makes the heart the very moral center of a human being. And it’s for this reason we need to ask God to search the heart, to examine it and look for anything there that dishonors him or threatens our well-being. It’s for this reason we need to monitor all of our words and actions, knowing they are the overflow of the heart and that they expose the state of the heart. It’s for this reason we need to keep the heart, tend the heart, guard the heart, and feed and satisfy the heart with good spiritual nourishment. It’s for this reason that nothing matters more to the Christian life than the heart. For, in God’s eye, the heart is always the heart of the matter.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Moody Publishers)

    This giveaway is sponsored by Moody Publishers, who also sponsored the blog last week with Overflowing Mercies. Attention all Bible scholars, believers in the power of faith, and lovers of the Word! Learn about God’s divine mercy and compassion with our exclusive Bible Study Giveaway. Win the ultimate bible study library including Overflowing Mercies by…

  • How Should We Then Die

    How Should We Then Die?

    Euthanasia makes a lot of sense. At least in our culture at this time, it makes intuitive sense that those who are ill without hope for a cure or those who are in pain without likelihood of relief ought to be able to choose to end their own lives. Our culture assumes there are few…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (April 12)

    A La Carte: Is God always pleased with Christians? / Southern Baptists debate designation of women in ministry / Good growth / Planted and rooted / Both worm and worthy / Scotland’s destiny and the rewriting of history / and more.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (April 11)

    A La Carte: 4 reasons why the Bible does not support transgenderism / Your elders will fail you / 25 questions a Christian woman should ask herself when a man starts to show interest / The same person in every room / Is the story of Job historical? / Book and Kindle deals / and…

  • The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    The Sun Is Blotted from the Sky

    Men of great physical strength have sometimes carried outrageously heavy burdens—six hundred pounds, seven hundred pounds, eight hundred. And even then they have said, “I still have not been fully tested. Put on some more weight! Load me up!” With confidence they have gripped the bar and with great straining and groaning they have lifted…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 10)

    A La Carte: Reflecting Christ in the crucible of your marriage / Finding peace beyond the illusion of control / There are no free bets / What temptation is and is not / Grieving the loss of a loved one / The Bible says it, I believe it / and more.