Have A Heart
February is “Heart Month” which means that in the next four weeks, we will be bombarded with reminders of what we need to do to take care of our hearts. We will be encouraged to exercise more and make sure we control our blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol—we’ll even hear and read infomercials that make us feel guilty when we eat too much of the foods that really taste great. I keep hoping for the day when it is confirmed that a steady diet of coffee, peanut butter, pizza, cheeseburgers, and vast amounts of chocolate is the key to a longer life but until then, I guess I will have to yield my vision of healthiness to those who know what they are talking about. It is true that heart disease is one of the top killers in the United States today so we do need to heed the advice of those who have learned what it takes to keep our physical hearts healthy.
But then begs the question: What about our spiritual hearts? What do we do to protect that vital “organ” that makes us who we are? I agree that heart disease is running rapid in the U.S. today—but it is not the physical heart that is suffering the most from this “disease.” Heart disease of a spiritual kind is the major “killer” in all kinds of people: young and old, rich and poor, rural and urban. It knows no difference in race, creed, or religion. Those who have felt its pain only know that it hurts and the healing process can be a real struggle.
A recent incident in my life illustrates all too clearly the effect of spiritual heart disease. I happened to be in the company of some high school boys I didn’t know but I struck up conversation with them since we were headed in the same direction. I asked how school was that day and one of them stated that he didn’t have to go because he had been suspended. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I jokingly said, “Getting an early start on spring vacation, are you?” He went on to explain the reason for his suspension.
Apparently, a substitute teacher made a comment about this student’s dad who was serving time in prison. The boy told me, “My dad has been in prison since I was young but he’s still my dad and no one talks bad about my family.” With the harsh judgment of the teacher ringing in his ears, the student reacted against the negative words and punched the teacher in the nose.
As I listened to the story, what I heard was not an out-of-line teacher or a misbehaving student. Instead, I saw a perfect example of the heart disease that is killing our world. I hurt for this young man and wondered how the suspension would help to shape his future. Will he become known as the kid who likes to fight or will anyone ever see the real love he has for his dad that prompted the incident? The sad part is that this incident is a microcosm of what is happening to so many people in our world today. Everywhere we turn, we read or hear or see people who are lashing out for one reason or another. Many times—probably too many times, the cause is a hurting heart. It’s time we worked on healing these broken hearts around us. It’s this kind of heart disease that is the killers of dreams, goals, and potential.
Scripture is full of warnings about how to take care of our hearts. The word heart is mentioned over 700 times in Scripture and not one of them deals with the physical heart. We read the Psalms and hear the psalmists feeling all of life through the emotions of their hearts. The great King Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived, wrote these words in the book of Proverbs: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). It is so important to care for our spiritual hearts so that they might not be corrupted from the things of this world.
We also need to guard our own hearts from the attacks of the world around us. The world is too stressful for us to ignore the fact that we need to care for ourselves. Taking care of your own heart is not a selfish act if the intent is to be in better shape to care for others.
How do we accomplish such an adjustment in our lives? One of the ways we can live a life filled with greater enjoyment and satisfaction is to realize the value of time. Sometimes it only takes a minute to make a huge difference in the life of another. It only takes a minute to pay someone a true heartfelt compliment. In the case of the student, imagine the difference a minute of thinking before speaking would have made in the lives of both the teacher and the student. In only takes a minute to share a hug, a firm handshake, or a word of confidence.
It only takes a few minutes to sit down and write an email or a nice thank you or encouragement letter—and those few minutes can make a huge difference in the life of a friend. A minute to pause and open the store door for a perfect stranger might not seem like much to you but it could be the only encouragement and smile that person may receive that day.
It’s the little things that make the big difference. Work in your own little corner of the world to make every month a heart-healthy month. The life you save may be your own.
[Jesus said]: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)
Have a great week,
« Back to Blog