Determined to Serve Jehovah With a Complete Heart
“Serve him with a complete heart and with a delightful soul; for all hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.”—1 CHRONICLES 28:9.
1. What questions are raised by 1 Chronicles 28:9?
THE scripture quoted above raises some questions about the heart. If it is referring to the physical heart, how could a person live with anything less than a complete heart? Could anyone live, for example, with half a heart? Does Jehovah, like a modern-day heart specialist, search the physical heart for flaws? As for the inclination of the thoughts, do thoughts reside in our heart? Some Bible references seem to say so, speaking of ‘the inclination of the thoughts of the heart.’ (Genesis 6:5; 1 Chronicles 29:18) Does Jehovah scan our physical hearts to discern our thoughts? What really is meant by ‘serving him with a complete heart’?
2. What beliefs concerning the heart were held by the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Greek philosopher Aristotle?
2 The ancient Egyptians believed that the physical heart was the seat of intelligence and the emotions. They also thought that it had a will of its own. The Babylonians said that the heart housed the intellect as well as love. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that it was the seat of the senses and the domain of the soul. But as time passed and knowledge increased, these views were discarded. Finally the heart became known for what it is, a pump to circulate the blood throughout the body.
3. What facts make the heart so awesome?
3 Yes, it is primarily a pump, but what an awesome one, faithfully gushing out the red stream of life every second of our lives! Little larger than a fist, weighing less than a pound, the human heart beats 100,000 times a day, pumping the blood of life through the body’s 60,000-mile cardiovascular system—some 2,000 gallons daily, tens of millions of gallons in a lifetime.a The heart’s beat is initiated by a concentration of cells making up its pacemaker, sending out electrical impulses that govern the rate of the heartbeat. No muscle in the body works harder, longer, steadier, decade after decade, than the heart. Under emotional stress or vigorous exercise it can step up its output fivefold. Remove the heart from the chest and it will continue to beat for a while. Even cells cut from the heart will, under favorable circumstances, continue to do so. Only the brain requires more nourishment and oxygen than the heart.
4, 5. (a) What qualities do the Scriptures attribute to the heart? (b) According to the Scriptures, what emotions and motivations dwell in the heart?
4 God’s Word speaks of the heart nearly a thousand times. A few of those occurrences refer to the literal heart. A few others refer to the center or midst of a thing, such as “in the heart of the open sea” and “in the heart of the earth.” (Ezekiel 27:25-27; Matthew 12:40) In nearly a thousand other references, however, heart is used in a figurative sense. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament lists many scriptures under “heart” for each of the following headings: “In the heart dwell feelings and emotions, desires and passions.” “The heart is the seat of understanding, the source of thought and reflection.” “The heart is the seat of the will, the source of resolves.” “Thus the heart is supremely the one centre in man to which God turns, in which the religious life is rooted, which determines moral conduct.”
5 Emotions and motivations dwell in this figurative heart. According to many scriptures, the heart can be cheerful, gloomy, darkened, enlightened, desperate, trusting, faint, hard. It can be hot with anger or melt in fear, proud and haughty or mild and humble, intensely loving or filled with hate, pure and clean or guilty of adultery. It is inclined to evil, but it can impel us to do good.
Be Neither Halfhearted Nor Doublehearted
6, 7. (a) What kind of people did the psalmist hate, and by what actions in both Israel and Judah is this condition illustrated? (b) How did Jesus illustrate that halfhearted service to Jehovah is unacceptable?
6 The literal heart must be whole to function, but the figurative heart can be divided. The psalmist, evidently a man after God’s own heart, wrote under inspiration: “The halfhearted ones I have hated.” (Psalm 119:113) Among such were those Israelites whom Elijah challenged, saying: “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the true God, go following him; but if Baal is, go following him.” (1 Kings 18:21) Halfheartedly, they ‘limped upon two different opinions.’
7 Similarly, after a partial return to Jehovah by Judah, it is recorded: “Nevertheless, the people were still sacrificing upon the high places; only it was to Jehovah their God.” (2 Chronicles 33:17) With divided hearts, they claimed to worship Jehovah but in an unauthorized way and in locations where they had previously worshiped Baal. Jesus said: “No one can slave for two masters.” (Matthew 6:24) In those days slaves were like a piece of property. They were on call to their master 24 hours a day. Their time could not be divided between two masters—half for one and half for the other. Jesus was making this point: no halfhearted service to Jehovah!
8. Figuratively speaking, how can one person have two hearts, and what scriptures reflect this?
8 There is only one literal heart in each person, but, figuratively speaking, one person can have two hearts. David referred to such persons, saying: “With a smooth lip they keep speaking even with a double heart [“with a heart and a heart,” Ref. Bi., footnote].” (Psalm 12:2) One heart posed for public display, the other secretly connived for selfish advantage. This two-faced, doublehearted posture is described in the Scriptures: “For as one that has calculated within his soul, so he is. ‘Eat and drink,’ he says to you, but his heart itself is not with you.” “Although he makes his voice gracious, do not believe in him, for there are seven detestable things in his heart.”—Proverbs 23:7; 26:25; Psalm 28:3.
9. What shows that doublehearted worship existed in both Jeremiah’s day and Jesus’ time?
9 Such hypocrisy in human relationships is deplorable, but when sown in Jehovah’s worship, it reaps calamity. “Do not put your trust in fallacious words, saying, ‘The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah they are!’ Here you are putting your trust in fallacious words—it will certainly be of no benefit at all. Can there be stealing, murdering and committing adultery and swearing falsely and making sacrificial smoke to Baal and walking after other gods whom you had not known, and must you come and stand before me in this house upon which my name has been called, and must you say, ‘We shall certainly be delivered,’ in the face of doing all these detestable things?” (Jeremiah 7:4, 8-10) Jesus denounced such doublehearted hypocrisy among the scribes and the Pharisees, saying: “You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me.’”—Matthew 15:7, 8.
10, 11. Where do Jehovah and Christ Jesus look when judging a person, and why?
10 From all of this it is clear why Jehovah said to Samuel: “Not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Hence, when Jehovah takes a man’s measure, it is not based on superficial evidence; he probes to the very heart of the matter. Christ Jesus identified the heart as the motivating force behind our conduct, whether it is good or bad: “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked treasure; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” Also, “Out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies.”—Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:19.
11 Christ Jesus, to whom judgment is committed, also looks where Jehovah looks: “I am he who searches the kidneys [“deepest emotions,” Ref. Bi., footnote] and hearts, and I will give to you individually according to your deeds.” (Revelation 2:23) For this reason, “more than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”—Proverbs 4:23.
12. Why does being wholehearted in Jehovah’s service demand diligent effort on our part?
12 Our worship of Jehovah must be neither halfhearted nor doublehearted, but wholehearted. This demands diligent effort on our part. Why so? Because the heart is treacherous and can be very deceptive. It is frightening how skillful it is in rationalizing the wrongs that attract our fallen flesh. While it may deceive us and hide our real motives from us, Jehovah sees it for what it is. He puts us on notice of this, saying: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it? I, Jehovah, am searching the heart, examining the kidneys, even to give to each one according to his ways, according to the fruitage of his dealings.”—Jeremiah 17:9, 10.
Acquiring a Complete Heart
13. What did Jesus say about some religionists of his day, and because of such conduct, what was the result for them?
13 Concerning religionists of his day, Jesus said: “The heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, 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.” (Matthew 13:15) Because of preconceived religious notions, they closed their eyes and ears and hardened their hearts to Jesus’ teaching. Rejecting reproof, they failed to gain a properly motivated heart: “The one listening to reproof is acquiring heart [“is acquiring good motive,” Ref. Bi., footnote].” (Proverbs 15:32) They claimed to worship God, but they performed their “righteousness” to be seen by men.—Matthew 6:1, 2, 5, 16.
14. What examples show the means by which truth enters to dwell deep within us?
14 How much better it is to be like King Jehoshaphat of Judah who ‘prepared his heart to search for the true God.’ (2 Chronicles 19:3) The best preparation in your search for God is heartfelt prayer. When distressed Hannah prayed fervently to Jehovah, “she was speaking in her heart,” and her prayer was answered. Also needed is a willingness to listen. Jesus’ mother listened: “His mother carefully kept all these sayings in her heart.” She began “drawing conclusions in her heart,” and she became a faithful disciple of Jesus. Jehovah helps the sincere seeker. God-fearing Lydia listened to Paul, “and Jehovah opened her heart wide to pay attention to the things being spoken by Paul.” She got baptized. (1 Samuel 1:12, 13; Luke 2:19, 51; Acts 16:14, 15) Always it is the figurative heart—the feelings, the emotions, the good motives—that allows the truth to enter and inhabit the person.
15. To acquire a complete heart, what must we be prepared to do?
15 To acquire a complete heart, we must be prepared emotionally to set aside preconceived opinions, willing to let God be found true even if it does demolish some of our pet ideas or cherished doctrinal views. (Romans 3:4) Selfish motives must be purged to make our hearts receptive to Jehovah’s will and ways. Jehovah once wrote his laws on stone, but later he wrote laws on human hearts. The apostle Paul also wrote on hearts. And you, too, can “write [loving-kindness and trueness] upon the tablet of your heart.”—Proverbs 3:3; Hebrews 10:16; 2 Corinthians 3:3.
16. What questions highlight the steps one must take to have a complete heart for Jehovah?
16 Does your heart qualify as a suitable writing surface for Jehovah’s principles and precepts? Will you cleanse it of preconceptions to make way for divine truth? Will you then continue to study, to make your mind over, to strip off the old personality, and to put on the new one fashioned in the likeness of God? Will you do your utmost to be a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth aright?—Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:9, 10; 2 Timothy 2:15.
Maintaining a Complete Heart
17. How did David admonish his son Solomon, and why did Solomon fail to follow the advice?
17 David told Solomon: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a complete heart and with a delightful soul; for all hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.” Solomon did start out serving with a complete heart, but as the years passed, he did not maintain it: “And it came about in the time of Solomon’s growing old that his wives themselves had inclined his heart to follow other gods; and his heart did not prove to be complete with Jehovah his God like the heart of David his father.”—1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Kings 11:4.
18, 19. (a) What various means will Satan use to make you fail to maintain a complete heart? (b) If these more subtle efforts of Satan fail, how will his tactics change?
18 Will you succeed where Solomon failed? Having dedicated yourself as a witness of Jehovah, having put aside all halfheartedness or doubleheartedness in your worship, having complied with Jesus’ words to “love Jehovah your God with your whole heart,” will you now be determined to keep your heart completely devoted to Jehovah’s service? (Matthew 22:37) Satan will not like it, and he is a wily adversary. Your heart will become his target. He knows its inclination to sin, and he can worm his way into it if you let down your guard. Did he not ‘put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus?’ (John 13:2) Money, materialism, entertainment, pride, secular careers, showy displays, fleshly desires—he knows our vulnerable spots and aims his fiery darts at them. Will you quench all of them with the shield of faith?—Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 2:15-17.
19 And when all these satanic devices fail, he is not through. He becomes a roaring lion trying to devour Jehovah’s faithful witnesses by violent mobs, beatings, imprisonments, and even death. But through it all Jehovah will strengthen those whose hearts are complete toward him.—James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-10; Revelation 2:10.
20, 21. (a) What questions might be asked in examining the literal heart? (b) How may similar questions be used to check up on the figurative heart?
20 The literal heart needs a checkup from time to time. Is it at regular intervals receiving good nourishment in sufficient amounts? Is its beat steady and strong or sluggish and weak? Does it maintain the proper blood pressure? Is it getting the exercise it needs? (To be healthy the heart needs to pump vigorously for long periods of time.) Does its pacemaker vary its speed to meet the changing needs? Is it being subjected to an emotional environment that puts it under heavy stress?
21 If the physical heart needs checkups, how much more so does the figurative heart! Jehovah examines it; so should we. Does it get sufficient amounts of spiritual food through regular personal study and meeting attendance? (Psalm 1:1, 2; Proverbs 15:28; Hebrews 10:24, 25) Do its feelings and deep emotions move us to zealous service in the field ministry—at times perhaps causing us to exert ourselves vigorously in auxiliary pioneering? (Jeremiah 20:9; Luke 13:24; 1 Corinthians 9:16) What about its environment? Is it surrounded by other hearts that are unified and complete with like feelings and motivations?—2 Kings 10:15, 16; Psalm 86:11; Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
22. What will ensure success in our determination to serve Jehovah with a complete heart?
22 If your checkup enables you to answer yes to the above questions, then you are safeguarding your figurative heart. You will succeed, along with millions of other faithful Witnesses, in your determination to serve Jehovah with a complete heart. All such ones have this assurance: “The peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:7.
a One mile = 1.6 kilometers.
One gallon = 3.8 liters.
Do You Recall?
◻ What are the many qualities attributed to the figurative heart?
◻ How may we avoid being halfhearted or doublehearted?
◻ Why do Jehovah and Christ Jesus look at the heart when judging?
◻ How can we acquire and maintain a complete heart?
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Do you have two faces?
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