How We’re Learning
By Muriel Gregory
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year; that is 1 in 4 deaths. It is extremely likely that you know someone who has either suffered a heart attack or died from it.
News reports, blog posts, and articles from specialists in the field will tell you that the key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, poor diet, physical inactivity, and alcohol abuse.
With that knowledge in hand, we all strive to be healthier by eating better, exercising more, quitting smoking, and limiting our alcohol intake.
At the same time, we often neglect a less obvious heart disease: spiritual heart disease.
Do we have a healthy heart for God? Are we walking in His statutes? Are we devoted to Him? Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick. So how do we cure ourselves from spiritual heart disease?
In biblical terms, the heart is the center of things. Deuteronomy 4:11 talks about the heart of heaven, Jonah 2:3 talks about the heart of the sea, and Matthew 12:40 refers to the heart of the earth.
The heart is the home of the personal life. It is the seat of the will (Mark 3:5), the intellect (Mark 2:6,8), and of feeling (Luke 24:32). It is also the seat of conscience, but unfortunately it is naturally wicked (Genesis 8:21).
Just like the hardening of your arteries will cause heart disease, the hardening of your spiritual heart will cause you to sin (Proverbs 28:14). A hardened heart will manifest itself through pride, conceit, ingratitude, unconcern about God’s Word.
The good news is that if you are a new-born Christian, you already hold the cure to your spiritual heart disease. Through prayer, the Holy Spirit can guide you and reveal any area of concern.
How to Exercise Your Heart and Be Free from Heart Disease:
- Follow a healthy diet of daily Bible reading and praying. The truth will set you free (John 8:32) and the truth is found in His Word.
- Practice gratitude. According to an article published by Newsweek in 2015, gratitude will keep you healthy, will improve your sleep, and will increase not only your self-esteem but also your empathy and resilience. Grateful people are more hopeful. There are over 52 passages mentioning thanksgiving in the Bible. Look them up!
- Exercise your spiritual disciplines more often. To follow Jesus means to practice the disciplines that He practiced. What are those disciplines? Prayer, worship, serving, fasting, silence, and solitude. One book I would recommend on that topic is Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney.
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Very little is taught on the Holy Spirit and yet it is alive inside of us. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in us. Let’s tap into this power to make our hearts more obedient to God.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19
God wants you and I to be spiritually healthy. As the great healer He can perform a heart transplant. The question is, do you want it?
We can be free from heart disease. The choice is ours. It is a lifelong discipline but the rewards are eternal.
- Do you recognize the signs of an unhealthy heart?
- Are you willing to make a change and transform your heart of stone into a heart of flesh?
- Make a plan and have a friend hold you accountable.
Father, I thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray that my heart will be free from pride and conceit and be wholly devoted to you. Amen.
Verses for Further Reading:
- Deuteronomy 11:18
- Psalm 51:10
- Psalm 4:4
- Ezekiel 11:19