Sir Walter Raleigh, the English aristocrat, was a writer, poet, soldier, politician, spy and explorer. His life was filled with adventure, intrigue, fortune and controversy.
In 1603 he was arrested and charged with treason in a plot to assassinate King James of England. On October 29, 1618, Raleigh was taken to the Old Place Yard at the Palace of Westminster where he was beheaded. When he was led to the block, his executioner asked him if his head lay right.
Raleigh answered, “It matters little, my friend, how the head lies, provided the heart is right.”
The word of the week is “heart.”
Christianity is a religion of the heart. However, there is a great deal of misunderstanding of what the Bible word “heart” really means. Just like the physical heart consists of four chambers, so does the spiritual heart. Each has a specific function. And plays a distinct role. These four chambers of the heart impact and affect our lives completely.
(1) The heart involves the intellect. The wise man wrote, “as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Jesus asked the question of the doubting Pharisees, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?” (Mk. 2:8). And Paul affirmed, “that with the heart man believes unto righteousness….” (Rom 10:9)
So the heart thinks. Reasons. Believes. That is the intellectual chamber.
(2) The heart involves emotion. It can feel pain. The Psalmist said, The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart…(PS 34:18). The heart may be broken by sin. Separation. Rejection. When we say, “that just breaks my heart” we’re not talking about something intellectual, but emotional. And, of course, the heart can also feel joy (Ps. 33:21; 32:11).
So the heart hurts. Grieves. Rejoices. This second chamber of the heart experiences all the emotions known to human beings.
(3) The heart involves the conscience. In 1John 3:20-21 the apostle says that our heart “condemns us.” When we violate our conscience, we have a gnawing sense of being wrong. Of course, as Peter observed, one can have a “heart trained in covetous practices” (2 Pet. 2:14). After a period of time of repeatedly sinning, our conscience may become, as Paul put it, “seared with a hot iron.”
This third chamber of the heart, the conscience, is our moral compass. An internal ethical governor. It can keep you from dangerous and reckless practices.
(4) The heart involves the will of Man. Will speaks to the volition of a person. To purpose. To preference. Barnabas encouraged the Christians that “with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” (Act 11:23). This requires a decision. A choice. A selection.
This fourth chamber of the heart, the will, involves resolve, intentionality and determination.
Now, how do you apply this to the great commandment? Jesus said, “to love God with all your heart.”
Intellectually I know God through His Word. He has given me reasons to believe and love Him. I can think about Him. And meditate on His loving kindness.
Emotionally, I feel the joy of God’s love. I revel in His goodness. Rejoice in His grace. And delight in mercy.
Conscientiously, because of what I both know and feel, I have a moral sense of God’s love within me. My conscience is pricked when I hurt Him. And it is soothed when I seek Him.
And so, my decision is to obey God. My purpose is to praise Him. I have chosen to serve Him. My intention is to draw near to Him. And I am determined to be discipled after Jesus.
So, the pressing question of life is this: “Is your heart right with God?”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman