Summary: The majority of biblical references to the heart refers to the seat of the emotions, our inner self, or even the center of the will. We can learn much from a survey of the Bible’s call to love God with our whole heart.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
From the Heart
Romance lives even in the retirement home. Did you hear about the 90 year-old bachelor. One day this man gathered his four nephews and announced that he was planning to be married. His nephews were in shock. One spoke up and said, "Uncle are you getting married because this woman is beautiful?" He said, "No." Another nephew asked, "Uncle are you getting married because this woman is a great cook?" Again he said, "No." The third nephew questioned, "Are you marrying this woman because she is rich?" "Of course not," was his reply. The final nephew
said, "Uncle if your not marrying this woman because she is beautiful, or because she is a great cook, or because she is rich, then why are you marrying her?" With a wink he said, "I’m marrying her because she can drive at night!"
When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: either the car
is new or the wife.
In keeping with the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I want to explore the Bible’s use of the word heart. The Bible uses the word heart in tons of ways. The word appears in scripture approximately 751 times. In the New Testament, 156 times. Many, of course, refer to physical organ that pumps the blood.
In a 70 year lifetime, it will beat an average of 75 times a minute, forty million times a year - or two-and-a-half billion times. At each beat, the average adult heart discharges about four ounces of blood. This amounts to three thousand gallons a day or 650,000 gallons a year—enough to fill more than 81 tank cars of 8,000 gallons each. The heart does enough work in one hour to lift a 150-pound man to the top of a three-story building. It exerts enough energy in twelve hours to lift a 65-ton tank car one foot off the ground, or enough power in seventy years to lift the largest battleship afloat completely out of the water. No wonder we feel tired!
The majority of biblical references, however, refers to the seat of the emotions, our inner self, or even the center of the will. We speak of “a sinking heart,” “a broken heart,” or “a heavy heart” and we know exactly what we are talking about.
We all understand the “heart” as a figure of speech unlike the little boy. You have heard about the kindergarten teacher on the first day of class who told the class to put their right hands over their hearts and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher watched the children as they started the pledge, "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." She stopped when she noticed Johnny’s right hand over the left side of his rear end. "Johnny, I will not continue until you put your hand over your heart." Johnny replied, "Ma’am, it is over my heart." After several attempts to get Johnny to put his hand over his heart, the teacher asked, "Why do you think that is your heart?" “Because whenever my Grandma visits, she picks me up, pats me here, and says, ’Bless your little heart, and my Grandma doesn’t lie!"
In an article in Today’s Christian Woman, Carol Leet tells of an incident that happened to her granddaughter. Four-year-old Amanda went to the doctor’s office with a fever. The doctor tried to ease the little girl’s obvious nervousness. When he looked in her ears, he said, "Who’s in there? Donald Duck?" She said, "No." He looked in her nose and said, "Who’s in there? Mickey Mouse?" Again she said, "No." He put his stethoscope on her heart and said, "Who’s in there? Barney?" Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my underwear." (Today’s Christian Woman, Vol. 18, no. 4.)