The Thoughts of the Heart
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Thoughts. Do our hearts have thoughts? Today, thanks to modern science, we know that thoughts originate and dwell in our brains and not in our hearts. Or do they? There have been perplexing reports of organ transplant recipients claiming that they seem to have inherited the memory, experiences and emotions of their deceased donors, and which are causing quirky changes in their personality.
In her book, “A Change of Heart,” Claire Sylvia describes how she discovered her unknown heart donor’s identity through the dreams and sensations she experienced after receiving his heart. According to a 2008 FOX News article about her life, “She’d never liked beer, Snickers, green peppers or chicken nuggets before. It was only after she received her new heart and lungs that Claire Sylvia took on a slew of characteristics that soon would be her own. Now 68, she accepts that her story is baffling.” Ms. Claire states, “Doctors run when they see me. They don’t know how to take it. I’m like a pink elephant and they don’t know what to do with me,”. Sylvia, who is Jewish, describes her donor’s family as being very spiritual. “They are a very practicing, very devout family,” she says. “So I have a Catholic heart inside this Jewish girl. … I always was spiritual and have always believed in things of the spirit. This just reinforced it.”
Not convinced? According to a 2006 article by the NY Post, William Sheridan turned to drawing as a hobby to take his mind off waiting for a heart donor to become available. Truth be told, he wasn’t very good. However, one of the first things he noticed following his surgery in 2006 was that all of a sudden, his talent for art had seemingly improved tenfold. After agreeing to meet the family of the man who had donated the heart (originally as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the need for donors), he discovered that the man, 24-year-old Keith Neville, had been a very enthusiastic artist, and he was very good, too.
Why does this matter and how does it affect Christians today? Let’s consider the following verses:
Ezekiel 11:19-21 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, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
God takes our heart when we become Christians. He then places within us HIS heart. This heart is a heart of flesh and not a heart of stone. It is a heart that will receive His word and obey Him (see Matthew 13). This new heart is the sign of the New Covenant that is promised to us in the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 31:33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
It is under this covenant that we do what is written in James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” We receive the heart of God and are therefore drawn to serve Him.
People often confuse obedience to the Laws of God for pointless works. We have been saved by grace through faith. We are not saved by our works. Why try then? James 2:17-19 17 reads, “So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that, and shudder.” Works are necessary for us to show others our faith. Why do we do what we do?
1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” What does loving others have to do with anything? Jesus answers us in Matthew (22:34-40) “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Loving others is easy. We can apply many of the laws in the Bible to loving others. There are commands about thievery, slavery, jealousy, violence, and perversion. No one who loves another would kill or steal to show that love. But how do we love God? It’s simple. Jesus tells us in John 14:15-17, 21: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
If we love God we will honor His wishes. We will love others and we will love Him. Today, I pray you embrace His heart that He has already placed inside of you if you are a believing Christian. That heart is calling you back to your Father’s heart.