Consulting the Finest Heart Specialist for Our Times
“You have examined my heart, you have made inspection.”—Ps. 17:3.
1. Why is it an exhilarating experience to have a specialist pronounce one’s heart to be in excellent condition?
WHAT an exhilarating experience it is for a person to have a heart specialist examine him and say that his heart is in excellent condition! The person is assured that the danger of heart failure is remote, that the prospects of a long life are very bright. This is especially consoling in times like ours when heart trouble is the No. 1 killer among all known diseases.
2. Why is mankind indebted to heart specialists today?
2 Today there are many renowned heart specialists and they are widely consulted. They treat many varieties of heart ailments. They perform surgical operations on the heart. They even insert artificial heart valves. All of this is done with a view to aiding the person with an ailing or defective heart to keep on living for some time to come. We are greatly indebted to these skilled heart specialists for their fine services to mankind.
3. What capacity does the human heart have, and what achievement have heart specialists failed to realize regarding it?
3 The human heart has the capacity or potentiality to pump the lifeblood forever. The medical profession acknowledges this fact. What a prizewinning accomplishment it would be if heart specialists discovered how to make our hearts function up to perfect capacity that we might live in perfect health forever! Great are the knowledge and skill that they have already acquired, yet they have failed to perform such an incomparable feat. In the light of this, we come to appreciate that it is vain for us to depend upon imperfect human heart specialists to realize such an achievement.
4. Whose heart holds the record for activity, and what life expectancy as stated by Moses holds true today?
4 However, with the Designer of the heart it is different. He created it with the ability to keep circulating the life-sustaining blood through our bodies forever. To his credit he has the unmatched record of keeping a human heart doing its vital duty for nine hundred and sixty-nine years. This was in the case of Methuselah the son of Enoch, for he lived that long. He was the eighth in the line of descent from the first man on earth, Adam. Methuselah’s heart holds the record for showing what the human heart can really do. According to the ancient historian Moses, the son of Amram, this long-lived Methuselah died in the year 2370 before our Common Era. Since then human hearts have greatly weakened in their vitality and capability. In the most advanced lands of today the average life expectancy of the male sex is seventy years. So there has been no improvement over what the historian Moses said in his day: “In themselves the days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by, and away we fly.”—Ps. 90:10.
5. Why should we heed the prescriptions of the heart’s Designer, and who has a part in determining how long the heart shall pump?
5 Just as an inventor knows all about his contrivance and so can issue instructions on how to handle and maintain it, the Maker of the human heart knows all about its mechanism and what affects it—better than any anatomist or surgeon does. We do well, therefore, to take heed to His prescriptions regarding this vital body muscle. As owners of hearts, we have much to do with the question of whether our hearts shall continue to function forever. There is a possibility of this. There is now an opportunity for this. Since the heart takes the central position in our being, we have such Biblical expressions as “the heart of the sea” and “the heart of the earth.”—Ex. 15:8; Matt. 12:40.
6, 7. (a) Why does a question arise as to the heart’s failure to function? (b) Who is the best one to consult on this, and why?
6 The Creator of man and woman knows what is at the “heart” of the problem today. He made the blood-circulatory system of the first human creature to function forever. He afforded the opportunity for it to do so. Why has it not done so? For us to learn why, we need to consult Him as the finest heart specialist today.
7 In His written Word, the Holy Bible, he made plain just why we die. From start to finish the Bible has much to say about the heart, speaking about it more than eight hundred times. Seeing that he has specialized on the heart to such an extent, we can be sure that he knows his subject. Better than any human medical specialist of today, He can advise us as to just what is needed to bring our hearts to the condition where they will serve us for life eternal. Even the highest dignitary of an ancient nation, King David of Jerusalem, applied to him for needed examinations. That is why David could say to him: “You have examined my heart, you have made inspection.”—Ps. 17:3.
8. What assurance can we have when we come to God for an examination and inspection of our hearts?
8 We can come to this finest of heart specialists with the assurance that he thoroughly understands our case even though we may not be able to describe it accurately in our own words. In substantiation of this, we read in the Holy Bible, at Romans 8:27: “He who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is.” Yes, he gets the sense of what we want to express to him verbally when we come to him for examination and inspection. If a person has been leading a clean life according to the Bible, he has nothing to fear. That is why the ancient psalmist could plead for an examination, saying: “Search through me, O God, and know my heart.”—Ps. 139:23.
“THE INCLINATION OF THE HEART OF MAN”
9. What diagnosis was made of the heart in the sixteenth century of man’s existence, and whose hearts kept beating till after the Deluge?
9 Very early in the history of man a diagnosis of the human heart is set out by the finest specialist in this field. In the first book of the Bible, in its Ge sixth chapter, we read of the moral state of affairs in the sixteenth century of man’s existence. The record says: “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. And Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.” (Gen. 6:5, 6) Here we have both the heart of man and the heart of God mentioned. Because Jehovah felt so hurt at his heart, he released a global deluge in the year that Methuselah died. He preserved alive only one human household, namely, Noah and his wife and their three sons and three daughters-in-law, eight human souls. In this way eight human hearts kept beating. Right after they emerged from the deluge-proof ark they turned to the worship of their heavenly Preserver. As they joined in offering up sacrifice to Jehovah God, a rainbow formed in the sky and bode good for them. What was Jehovah’s reaction to this?
10, 11. (a) What did Jehovah then say about man’s heart? (b) How long did he indicate human hearts would beat, and where?
10 “And Jehovah began to smell a restful odor, and so Jehovah said in his heart: ‘Never again shall I call down evil upon the ground on man’s account, because the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up; and never again shall I deal every living thing a blow just as I have done.’”—Gen. 8:21.
11 Jehovah then gave the indication that our physical earth is to remain forever. Here human hearts would beat together for all time.
12. At that time, why was mankind’s heart badly inclined from youth up?
12 In that post-deluge year of 2369 B.C.E., why did Jehovah say that “the inclination of [man’s] heart” is bad “from his youth up”? This was due to the fact that the human family had inherited this bad inclination of the heart from the first man on earth, Adam the husband of Eve. Jehovah had given Adam the command: ‘Do my will and live. Disobey my will and die.’ (Gen. 2:15-17) Under a later test of his loving devotion to his Creator, Adam chose to please his wife by inclining his heart to badness, to disobedience toward Jehovah God his Life-Giver.
13. When did Adam’s heart stop, and what did he bequeath to us?
13 Man has never got rid of that bad inclination of the heart. Adam had to suffer the penalty for his willful sin against his Creator. At the age of nine hundred and thirty years, Adam’s heart, which had been created with the capacity to function forever without any trouble, stopped. The pumping of blood through his circulatory system ceased. So Adam died. But before his death Adam had many sons and daughters and these intermarried and raised families. (Gen. 5:1-5) To all his offspring, Adam bequeathed the bad heart inclination. All of us have it today. This explains why the inclination of the heart of mankind is bad from their youth up.—Rom. 5:12.
14. What questions does the expression “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart” raise”
14 Doubtless all of us recall that at Genesis 6:5, which speaks about the fallen condition of mankind, it uses the expression “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart.” From this are we to understand that the Bible teaches that man’s heart thinks or that the human heart is Biblically used as the equivalent of the mind? Do not Proverbs 16:9 and Pr 19:21 bear out that idea? They say: “The heart of earthling man may think out his way, but Jehovah himself does the directing of his steps.” “Many are the plans in the heart of a man, but the counsel of Jehovah is what will stand.” Also, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says: “Neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (See also Isaiah 64:4.) On the surface it seems that the word “heart” is used to mean “mind,” our thinking faculties.
15. What scriptures can be quoted to show that the Bible makes a distinction between “heart” and “mind”?
15 However, the Bible makes a clear distinction between “heart” and “mind.” For example, the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah 40:13 (Greek Septuagint Version) and says: “For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Also, Paul says, in Philippians 4:7: “The peace of God that excels all thought [Greek: nous, mind] will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” And in Matthew 22:37 Jesus is quoted as saying: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” To this Mark 12:30 adds the words: “And with your whole strength.” (See also Luke 10:27.) Such a distinction we should apply not just to the Christian Greek Scriptures. To be consistent we should apply it uniformly throughout the whole set of inspired Scriptures, from Genesis onward.
16. What is the heart, physically, and how is it viewed figuratively?
16 The mind is, of course, that faculty of the brain with which we gather information, sort it out, sum it up and reach a conclusion. As for the heart, it is that muscular organ of the body that pumps the blood entering it and keeps the blood circulating through the whole body, including the brain. It is affected not merely by the physical condition of the body but also by sensations and emotions. In view of its propulsive, moving power, it is appropriately viewed as the seat of motivation, whether this be out of love or out of hate, out of fear or selfishness.
17. What illustrations do we have of the motivating power of the heart?
17 Illustrating this motivating function of the heart, Exodus 35:21, 26 says: “Then they came, everyone whose heart impelled him, and they brought, everyone whose spirit incited him, Jehovah’s contribution for the work . . . And all the women whose hearts impelled them with wisdom spun the goat’s hair.” (Also, Exodus 36:2) To Moses, Jehovah said: “From every man whose heart incites him you people are to take up the contribution of mine.” (Ex. 25:2) A fully charged heart moves its possessor to speak: “Out of the abundance of the heart [which cherishes things] the mouth speaks.”—Matt. 12:34.
18. What does the heart have to do with expressions through the mouth, and how do heart and mind cooperate?
18 Though the heart of itself does not think, it can incite thought. This was the import of Jesus’ words to men who were sticklers for ceremonial washing of the hands: “The things proceeding out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies.” (Matt. 15:18, 19) Certainly false testimonies and blasphemies come out of the mouth, and the wicked reasonings of the mind that express themselves through the mouth are stimulated by the bad inclination of the heart. Yes, the heart inclines the thoughts, for it likes them to be inclined in a particular way. It is allowable, therefore, for Genesis 6:5 to speak of the “thoughts of [man’s] heart” as having a bad inclination. Thought has heart cooperation.
19. How does the heart come to represent a sense of appreciation?
19 The heart develops a love, a fondness, an affection toward an object. So it comes to prize a person or thing. From this standpoint the heart represents a sense of appreciation, including an appreciation of things that are involved in a situation.
“WANT OF HEART”
20, 21. What does the expression “want of heart” mean, and what do those marked by it not escape?
20 Thus the Bible speaks of a person’s acquiring heart or betraying a “want of heart.” Such a “want of heart” marks an inexperienced person or a person who does not care about consequences. In either case the person can show a bad motive, but he also reveals a want of appreciation. His ignoring of penalties or consequences will not save him from them. For instance, we read:
21 “Anyone [as a married man] committing adultery with a woman is in want of heart; he that does it is bringing his own soul to ruin.” (Prov. 6:32) Also: “I looked down, that I might peer upon the inexperienced ones. I was interested in discerning among the sons a young man in want of heart, passing along on the street near her corner, and in the way to her house he marches . . . And, look! there was a woman to meet him, with the garment of a prostitute and cunning of heart.” (Prov. 7:6-10) “The rod is for the back of one in want of heart.” (Prov. 10:13) “For want of heart the foolish themselves keep dying.” (Prov. 10:21) “The one pursuing valueless things is in want of heart.” (Prov. 12:11) “Foolishness is a rejoicing to one who is in want of heart, but the man of discernment is one who goes straight ahead.”—Prov. 15:21; also Pr 12:8; note Pr 28:16.
22. To what is “true wisdom” likened, and our accepting her invitation results how for us?
22 In contrast to a “woman of stupidity,” true wisdom is pictured as a clean, moral woman. She invites the person who is in “want of heart” to enter her dwelling and feast with her with real benefit. (Prov. 9:1-9) So what we today want to do is to listen to “true wisdom” and accept her invitation. This will lead to eternal life in God’s favor. Thus we shall be “acquiring heart,” and Proverbs 19:8 assures us: “He that is acquiring heart is loving his own soul. He that is guarding discernment is going to find good.”—Contrast Proverbs 9:13-18.
INCLINING THE HEART
23. What heart inclination have we inherited, and, hence, what prayers in the Psalms should we offer to God?
23 In the face of all these considerations, do we need to consult the finest heart specialist for our times? Yes, indeed! From his written Word, which contains valuable prescriptions, we learn that we have inherited the heart inclination that is toward badness, even since the deluge of Noah’s day. (Gen. 8:21) It is therefore the course of wisdom for us to learn the healthful, life-giving prescriptions of God’s Word and sincerely pray to him as did the psalmist: “Incline my heart to your reminders, and not to [material] profits.” (Ps. 119:36) “O Jehovah, I have called upon you. Do make haste to me. . . . Do not incline my heart to anything bad, so as to carry on notorious deeds in wickedness with men who are practicing what is hurtful, that I may not feed myself on their dainties.”—Ps. 141:1, 4; note Daniel 11:27.
24. (a) How do we carry out the invitation: “My son, do give your heart to me,” so as to take pleasure in God’s ways? (b) When God makes proof of our hearts, how do we want him to find them?
24 The course that our loving Creator wants us to take as his earthly creatures is the wise one. He says: “My son, do give your heart to me, and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” (Prov. 23:26) He wants us to give him the appreciation that he merits, that thus we may take pleasure in him and in his perfect qualities and ways. Then we will be moved to copy his ways and to walk in the ways that his Word recommends for us. This will lead us to heed what is said in Proverbs 2:2: “Pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment.” This is advisable, because Jehovah is the “God, who makes proof of our hearts.” (1 Thess. 2:4) When he does this toward us, we want him to find our love and affections centered on him as the One whom we sincerely worship, and not on false gods. (Josh. 24:23; 1 Ki. 8:57, 58; 11:3, 4, 9) For this to prove true in our case, we must finally be able to say what the psalmist said to Jehovah God: “I have inclined my heart to do your regulations to time indefinite, down to the last.”—Ps. 119:112.
25. Why should we desire spiritual health amid a sick world, and what divine prescription should we follow?
25 Today, when human maladies abound in spite of the progress of medical science and psychotherapy, spiritual maladies are the most serious ailments. These have a bearing, not just on our present life, but also on our prospects for eternal life in a perfect realm of righteousness. Do we desire spiritual well-being now in the midst of a sick world? It is wise to do so, for this gives promise of endless life in happy association with God and his universal organization. Making this our heartfelt desire, then we will conscientiously follow the certified prescription issued by the finest heart specialist for our times: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”—Prov. 4:23.
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From the heart we thank God for his love and are motivated to serve him