Keep Your Heart Strong
HAVE you ever had a heart attack? If you have, you know what it means to have a weak heart. You can keenly appreciate how much you depend upon the condition of your heart for the physical capability to do the many things you like to do. It performs a vital function in your body by pumping five to six quarts of blood through your circulatory system every minute. As long as it is strong it can keep up its regular beating for a long time, not giving out even when it is seventy years old and after beating about two and a half billion times. When it is weak, on the other hand, not much is required to make it falter and endanger your life. But even if you have a strong heart, you can lose your life because of heart trouble.
Due to the fact that the heart is a deep-seated organ from which the blood flows to all parts of the body with life-sustaining substances, it is used in God’s Word in a figurative sense to represent a person’s deep-seated affections, desires and motives. Thus the seat of your affections is your figurative or spiritual heart. This is the heart that can cause you to lose your life even though your physical heart may be strong.
The first man, Adam, had a strong physical heart but a weak spiritual heart. He did not maintain strong affection for his Creator and for what is righteous and so allowed his inner desires and motives to become bad. This failure of his spiritual heart brought upon him eternal death.
In the days of Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, many people had allowed their spiritual hearts to go bad as the first man Adam had. Regarding them Paul wrote: “Therefore God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.” (Rom. 1:24) The desires of their spiritual hearts were for morally unclean actions. The same condition existed in the days of Noah. Speaking about mankind of that time, the historical record of the Bible states: “Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.”—Gen. 6:5.
The ancient nation of Israel also suffered from heart trouble. They manifested weak spiritual hearts when they yearned for the leeks, onions and garlic they had enjoyed in Egypt instead of being willing to put their trust in God and endure the discomforts of the wilderness for a short time. (Num. 11:4-6) As a consequence they failed to have strong hearts when they were faced with the actual taking of the Promised Land. Because they rebelled, God required them to wander in the wilderness for forty years, until that generation died and a new one grew up.
It would be foolish to repeat the mistakes those people made by not keeping your heart strong. Continual strengthening of it is vital to your spiritual and physical life. This was the course of action urged at the recent graduation of the forty-first class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. The students, who were being sent out to thirty-eight lands as missionaries, were counseled to keep their figurative or spiritual hearts strong.
A director of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, George Couch, told them: “Everything during your school days was to help you to grow spiritually. Nothing was allowed to interfere with it. But now your school days have come to a close. You are going to be assigned to different parts of the earth in your missionary work. Things will be different. You will have different food and encounter different customs. The beds will not be the same. Practically everything in your life will be changed. Are you going to let that change your thinking or change your desires? Are you going to long for the ‘garlic and leeks’ back home so much that you may want to leave that assignment to come back where, perhaps, there is plusher living? Are you going to let those conditions affect your missionary work? If you do, it will affect your spiritual heart. Keep foremost in your mind that the necessary thing is to continue taking in a fuller knowledge of Jehovah God and his purposes. Never stop that.”
The good counsel given to those students is beneficial for all of us. It is only by keeping our minds filled with the spiritually upbuilding knowledge of God’s Word and by keeping active in his service that we can keep our hearts spiritually strong. By our neglecting to do this our affections can, as in the case of the Israelites, drift from God to material comforts and pleasures, causing us to become “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:4) Knowing better than anyone else what is required to keep our spiritual hearts strong, Jehovah God counsels us at Proverbs 23:12, “Do bring your heart to discipline and your ear to the sayings of knowledge.” The discipline and sayings of knowledge that come from him through his written Word are what strengthen the heart.
Although your physical heart is only about the size of your fist, it keeps your entire body alive. From it blood moves out to all parts of your body carrying the food, oxygen, hormones and enzymes that are necessary for it to continue living. These sources of the body’s life must keep flowing out from the heart without faltering if the body is to remain healthy. The same is true with the spiritual heart. When this seat of affections, desires and motives is strong, the feelings, expressions and actions that flow from it will be the sources of your spiritual health and life. Since God judges you by these manifestations of the heart, the condition of your spiritual heart affects your prospect for his gift of endless life. With these things in mind, we can appreciate what is meant at Proverbs 4:23: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”
No matter what circumstances may face you, watch your spiritual heart and keep it strong. Keep your desires and motives pure and your affection for your Creator strong. Then when God ‘makes proof of your heart’ he will find you worthy of his gift of eternal life.—1 Thess. 2:4.