15 May 2013 by Timothy Tai CM-
A number of years ago, my dad experienced some tightness in his chest and decided to go to the hospital to have it checked out. That decision literally saved his life because the doctors made the alarming discovery that he had 5 blocked arteries in his heart! 2 arteries were completely clogged up while another 3 arteries were more than 75% blocked. The doctors told my dad that he was a virtual walking time bomb just waiting to explode and that he could suffer a heart attack at any time.
He was immediately scheduled for a quintuple bypass which gave him not only a ‘new’ set of arteries, but a new lease of life as well. To this day, I am ever grateful to God that my dad had paid attention to the discomfort that he felt in his chest. I shudder to think of what would have happened if he had chosen to ignore the symptoms instead.
In the same way that we need to take care of the physical health of our heart, it is absolutely imperative that we pay attention to the spiritual condition of our heart. It’s so important that King Solomon said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). The word used for heart in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word ‘lev’ and it refers not just to the seat of our emotions but also the center of our thoughts. That’s why our heart governs all that we do; we love, relate to others, speak, lead, live and reason from our heart. It literally is the well-spring of our life.
Listen to what Jesus had to say about our spiritual heart:
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. – Luke 6:45 (NLT)
But the words you speak come from the heart – that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. These are what defile you. – Mark 15:18-20 (NLT)
The sad truth is that most of us don’t pay attention to what goes on in our spiritual heart and we pay the price every day as a result of our negligence. King David for example, ended up committing adultery because he didn’t guard his heart from lusting over Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). And even as wise as King Solomon was, his heart was turned after other gods due to the influence of his many wives (1 Kings 11:4). We would also do well to note that it was in Judas Iscariot’s heart where Satan planted the treacherous seeds that led him to betray the Lord Jesus (John 13:2).
That’s why we need to give careful heed to the things that go on in our heart at all times. We must stand guard over what goes into our hearts because there are many things such as greed, lust, anger and bitterness that threaten to enter in and take up residence there. We also have to watch over the thoughts that we entertain in our hearts and be vigilant about the things that come out of them. Unfortunately that’s much easier said than done. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” With the busy lives that we lead, it’s much easier to ignore our heart problems and pretend that all is well in our hearts.
Just like my dad needed to decide to go for a medical checkup, we too need to resolve to take time to honestly examine our own hearts. Below are some questions that we can prayerfully ask ourselves on a regular basis to check the spiritual condition of our heart. Don’t rush as you go through them but ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the things in your well-spring that need to be dealt with.
1. Are you angry at anybody or waiting for somebody to apologize to you and make things right?
2. Is there someone among your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues that you refuse to forgive?
3. Have you been jealous of someone else’s success or secretly celebrated someone’s failure recently?
4. Are you holding back certain areas in your life (e.g. your career, relationship, finances or need for security) from God?
5. Have you been speaking harsh words to people around you?
6. Have you lied to or gossiped about somebody recently?
7. Do you have any secrets eating away at you or something going on in your life that you hope nobody finds out?
8. Have you been entertaining lustful thoughts about someone in your heart?
9. Have you been running away from something that God has asked you to do?
10. Are there any habitual or hidden sins in your life that you have not repented of?
11. Is there anything that is taking the place of God in your heart?
Lord, may we be able to pray as David prayed in his psalm, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (ESV)
Note: Timothy grew up in Kuching and worked in KL before jumping off the corporate ladder in 2006. He moved to New York City where he served at an inner-city kids ministry for almost 6 years. He has since returned to KL and has just married his Irish fiancee Sarah.
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