Check Your Heart
How Can You Do So? Why Is It Urgent Now?
THE human heart is truly a marvelous organ. Every hour, under average conditions, it pumps seventy-five gallons of blood, and in emergencies can increase this to 430 gallons. Think of it! The heart can pump well over a ton and a half of blood an hour to bathe all the body’s cells with this precious fluid! Despite its power, however, if it is not given proper care, the heart can develop disease. The trouble may be hardening of the arteries, malfunctioning of the heart valves, or envelopment of the heart in fat. These conditions are often contributed to in no small measure by heavy eating, overindulgence in alcohol and severe and prolonged anxieties.
While complete cure of physical heart ailments may not at present be possible, proper treatment can lengthen the life of patients. Usually the physician will prescribe a greatly reduced intake of rich foods and alcoholic drinks, and will encourage the sufferer to face the demands of life with greater calm. He may tell the patient to avoid any kind of emotional strain or emergency situation. The health of the heart can be aided immensely by proper care.
But despite the importance of the health of the physical heart, the health of the figurative heart is far more important. Observe how God’s Word the Bible shows this: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” This figurative heart is the seat of affection, and hence is the source of motivation. It is that faculty of the person that accounts for the basic reasons why we speak and think and act as we do. So whether our actions are good or bad, pleasing to God or displeasing to him, depends upon the condition of this figurative heart.—Prov. 4:23.
Daily our “heart” keeps receiving thoughts and impressions from the mind and nervous system, these being fed to the seat of affection as a result of the things we read, hear, see, think about and do. Then, in turn, from this figurative heart there flows outward an almost constant stream of feelings and expressions of love or hate, which reveal what kind of persons we really are on the inside. Since it is on the basis of these expressions of the heart that God judges us, the “sources of life” can truly be said to come from there. How vital, then, that we should regularly check the condition of this figurative heart!
Jesus Christ himself admonished his followers to pay attention to the condition of their hearts. When giving his well-known prophecy regarding the last days and the events that would mark his second presence in Kingdom power, he directed this caution to his followers who would be living at that momentous time: “But pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.” (Luke 21:34) Since fulfilled Bible prophecy indicates that we are now living during the time of which Jesus spoke, it is vital that we heed his counsel to pay attention to our hearts. Do you know how to check the health of your heart?
HOW TO CHECK THE HEART
In order to obtain an accurate appraisal of its condition we must examine ourselves honestly. No other human is in position to do this, for no other human can read with certainty what our innermost thoughts, hopes, ambitions and desires are. So, in making this check, our purpose should be to find out whether the things in our heart are pleasing to God. And if we find that there are adjustments that need to be made, then we should acknowledge this, and take steps to discipline our heart in what is right in God’s sight.
What does an inspection of your heart reveal? Do you find it to be weighed down with material cares, concerning itself primarily with eating and drinking and the anxieties over making a living? It is true that to provide an adequate living for yourself and family often requires long hours of labor at some secular job. This is understandable. However, what Jesus said to check is whether your heart has become so weighed down with these ordinary matters of living that you no longer give proper attention to spiritual matters, such as prayer to God, His promises of a new system of things and what you can do to serve Him.
In order to make this check, ask yourself: Upon what are my affections set? To what does my interest turn when it is not necessary that it be focused on the work at hand? Does it immediately turn to what I want to do to satisfy my desire for personal pleasures? Is it regularly occupied with what movie or TV program I want to see? with what clothes I desire? or with parties, sports or romance? Am I continually planning how I can advance in my work or profession in order to reap a greater material reward? Are my concerns filled completely with the everyday requirements of life—shopping, cooking, care of the home, and so forth? Am I so burdened down with these cares and with satisfying personal desires that I seldom give attention to what God says in his Word and what I as a Christian should be doing, or do I relate all the affairs of life to the fact that I am a Christian?
Jesus appreciated that his followers would have many obligations to care for. It was for this reason that he gave the warning not to allow these matters to weigh down their hearts and prevent them from embracing God’s truth. Jesus realized the danger, for he was acquainted with how people to whom he spoke in the first century had their hearts so filled with other things that the message of truth could not penetrate. He said of a crowd of such persons: “The heart of this people has grown thick, and with their ears they have heard with annoyance, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and I heal them.”—Matt. 13:15.
Certainly we do not want our hearts to become so calloused to spiritual things that we are annoyed when Bible truth is spoken. But this can happen if we set our hearts on material things and desires and always fill our minds with such matters. Remember that Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth . . . Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matt. 6:19-21.
Just as there is danger of developing a diseased physical heart without even realizing it, so it is possible that our figurative heart, the seat of affection or motive, may become diseased without our recognizing it. That is why we must regularly check our hearts, examining desires and motives. The Christian apostle Paul emphasized how necessary this was, when he wrote: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God.”—Heb. 3:12.
WHY URGENT NOW
Jesus showed why it is urgent to check our hearts now, saying: “And suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.” (Luke 21:34, 35) What day was Jesus speaking about? Why, that momentous day of God’s execution of judgment when all who refuse to heed His Word and live according to it will be wiped from the earth. No one with a wicked heart will be spared!
In this connection, please remember how the inspired apostle identified a wicked heart. He said that it is one “lacking faith by drawing away from the living God.” Yes, a wicked heart is not only one that dwells on immoral things, but also a heart that is so weighed down with eating and drinking and anxieties over livelihood that it shoves God and his Word aside. Notice how Jesus showed that failing to respond to the significance of the times was the error of the people who perished in the global deluge of Noah’s day.
“Just as the days of Noah were,” Jesus said, “so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note [of God’s message preached by Noah] until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matt. 24:37-39; 2 Pet. 2:5.
Since we are now living in a day comparable to that of Noah, being surrounded by multitudes of persons who are drowsy and insensible of heart, it is vital that we heed Jesus’ counsel: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36) To stay awake spiritually we must study God’s Word and associate regularly with people whose hearts are fixed on the service of God. This will keep our faith strong and will prevent us from “drawing away from the living God.” It will aid us to ‘keep on seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,’ relegating all other matters to a secondary place in our lives.—Matt. 6:33.
The Kingdom, together with all power of judging, has now been given into the hand of the Son of man, Christ Jesus. (John 5:22) Those who remain ‘standing before him’ and who will be counted worthy of life in the new system of things beyond God’s judgment execution, will be those whose hearts are right, those whose hearts are not weighed down with the cares of this life but are pure and quick to perceive what the will of God is and prompt to respond with appreciation to his many undeserved kindnesses.
How urgent it is, then, to pay attention to our heart condition! God’s kingdom and its interests should be first in our life. Unlike the fleeting things of this life, the Kingdom will stand forever. As wholehearted supporters of it we can escape the destruction destined to come upon this selfish system of things, and stand approved before the Son of man. So, by all means, take care of your heart! Heed the Bible counsel: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”—Prov. 4:23.