By Mike Kelsey, MBC Silver Spring Campus Pastor
Self-pitying comparisons. Outburts of anger. Refusal to share the Gospel. What do all of these have in common?
While we are all influenced by different factors (e.g. past history, physical causes, etc.), Scripture teaches that our behavior ultimately flows from the heart. This is why Proverbs 4:23 warns us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life.” In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus gives us a picture that illustrates the relationship between our behavior and our heart (cf. Mark 7:20-23). Just as roots that are hidden beneath the surface produce observable fruit, our hearts produce our behavior. In other words, if we really want to understand our habits, reactions, and emotional responses, we need to trace them inwardly to the condition of our heart. And in order to do that, we must understand what “the heart” is and how it works.
What is the Heart?
Human beings have an outer, material person (body) and an inner, immaterial person (soul/spirit). In Scripture, the inner person is often referred to as “the heart”, the control center of human behavior. For practical purposes, the most succinct way to understand how the heart works is with the word motives. Addressing the heart means getting beneath the surface of our actions and emotions, down to what motivates us. It means learning to identify the desires and beliefs that drive us to do what we do.
Here are two questions that may help you evaluate your struggles, sins, and habits, or help someone else do the same:
- When you do or say _______________, what are you really wanting?
- When you do or say _______________, what are you really believing?
Once you determine your motives, you can test whether they are pleasing to God. If not, allow the Holy Spirit to truly change your heart despite whatever else may be going on in and around you.