Matters Of The Heart

There are television commercials about it. There are songs written about it. There are displays of gifts and decorations for it. Companies of every product imaginable are focused on it.

Matters of the heart.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a day of showing love to that special someone. Somewhere along the way, though, it became a day of buying and spending and showing love by how much and how big and how expensive your gifts can be. Quiet demonstrations of love and much-needed acts of devotion aren't comparable to something lavish and sparkling.

It's been the same in every generation - matters of the heart have been written about, sung about and examined. Where does love come from, people ask, and what makes it last? Matters of the heart lead to weddings and anniversaries, jealousy and murder, repentance and forgiveness, adulteries and abandonment, babies and grandchildren, and couples devoted to serving God together. The heart can also be easily swayed to the unholy and the ungodly when left unprotected.

There are more than 760 verses of Scripture that talk about the heart. Most of the time it refers to the inner man, the soul that God gives each individual. It's not the root of lovey-dovey feelings, but of discernment and is the location of our determination and devotion to God and those we care about.

Believe it or not, the first references to the heart in Scripture had nothing to do with love and definitely had nothing to do with Valentine's Day. Nobody cut out a heart and pasted it in construction paper. They didn't draw a heart shape and write their initials in it. No, the first heart spoken of in the Bible was as far away from a picture-perfect romance as can be.

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5

In my Bible, this verse is found on the fifth page. In just the ninth column of words in the book of Genesis, God's creation had let its heart run wild and strayed from Him. This generation of men wasn't just looking around to see what else might be out there - they were firmly rooted in wickedness and evil. And not just a little evil here and there - evil continually. How can they have gotten so turned around in just a few chapters?

The answer is simple to see now as we read the words penned so long ago. They simply chose to follow their heart instead of following the Lord. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, the prophet Jeremiah would write hundreds of years later. Leading with our heart instead of following God in obedience always leads us farther in the wrong direction.

Keep reading. It gets worse, if that's possible.

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:6

God watched the evil, wicked men on the earth, and it broke His heart. The choices they made weren't a surprise to Him, but it was still painful to see the people He had created with such love and care turn away and choose their selfish, destructive ways over the peace and joy of walking with Him.

We can read these verses and judge them for their poor decisions. We shake our heads and wonder why they couldn't see what was right in front of their faces. All they had to do was turn away from their evil ways and serve the Lord. It's just that simple.

Then why do we follow our heart and say things we regret?
Why do we follow our heart and abandon those we love most?
Why do we follow our heart and root ourselves in selfishness?
Why do we follow our heart and treat others with envy, hate and anger?

The heart isn't some fluffy pink pillow that we pull out every February for a few days. The heart isn't a drawing or a carving or a symbol of love and affection. It's the living, breathing center of being that was created by God for a single purpose - to follow Him.

We know the rest of the story. God chooses Noah, the man who walked with God, to continue the human race. Though His heart was broken over the hearts that had turned away from Him, God focused on the one heart that didn't. Because of his dedication and faithfulness, Noah and his family were spared from the flood and protected from the rain storm. It might have been easy for Noah to follow his heart and follow the thousands of people around him who were headed in the opposite direction, but he didn't. He kept his heart in tune with God's, and he was able to reap the benefit of it in a powerful and mighty way.

As you're celebrating the love you share with your spouse and family this week, be aware of all the hearts you see. The world may see them as decorations, but you know the truth. And when you feel the tug that would pull your heart away, even for a moment, I pray that you will remember the true purpose of the heart and keep yours focused on the Lord.

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