The human heart weighs less than a pound and beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping through our system of blood vessels almost 100,000 kilometres long. When the heart stops functioning, the human body would quickly cease to function. Taking great care of our health that could affect our heart is important as heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world.
Metaphorically speaking, when someone comments that you have ‘no heart,’ it simply means you are not interested. But God has a great concern about our heart. The heart is most commonly used by God to express what it is in man that God is interested in.
So what really is the heart apart from its physical function? The heart is the seat of our emotions, thoughts and intents. God explains it clearly to Prophet Samuel that “the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).
The Old Testament laws covered every aspect of life – cleanliness, health and hygiene. These rules and regulations were all concerned with holiness, and their motivation was supposed to stem from a desire to please and emulate God (Leviticus 11:44). In other words, the outward rituals were supposed to reflect the inner attitudes of the heart.
At the time of Jesus, many of the teachers were putting the emphasis in the wrong place. They thought that holiness could be attained simply by obeying a whole lot of rules that concerned outward behaviour and actions, rather than heartfelt obedience.
So when Jesus was asked by a Pharisee, an expert of the law, which of all the commandments is the most important, his reply was in a way pointing out that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart, and said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
What then is the condition of your heart? Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” In other words, the heart is where the issues of life are and the Bible sets high importance on keeping our hearts pure: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Having a pure heart towards God is single-mindedness devotion to Him, whereas having ‘three hearts with two intents’ – as the Chinese idiom says ‘三心两意’ – literally means light-mindedness or being frivolous in our dedication towards God.
We need to be reminded that God is concerned about our hearts and it is the attitude of the heart that matters to God. We need also to heed the words of the Psalmist to seek God to “create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within us” (Psalm 51:10).
So what is the heart of the message? The heart of the message is the matter of our heart.