Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Habits Of A Healthy Heart

by Wong Fook Meng, GCF ecommentary

"Your heart is where you dream, deliberate and decide.
It's how you think and process life.
Your heart is the real you when you take all the layers off."
– Dr Joseph Stowell, resident of Moody Bible Institute

"To get to the core of our beings, it is imperative that we take off all the layers, of possession, power, pleasures..." he mused as he sipped his teh tarik kurang manis. We were sitting opposite one another in the court canteen, enjoying a chat over drinks.

He's a religious kind of guy and my tea-break conversation with this senior lawyer was moving from legal practice to spirituality. Lowering his glass, he peered at me and asked, "Is there a similar concept in Christianity? The inner person? The 'real us'?"

"As we sit here in this canteen, I can see your face and hear your voice," I began to say. "But, there is a deeper part of you which I cannot see. It is that part of you which is thinking, feeling and making responses to what I am saying. That is what the Bible calls 'soul'. As a Christian, I believe the soul is eternal and is a mirror of the image of a Creator."

He nodded to my response in satisfaction. We bade farewell and agreed to continue our theological discussion another day. But as I moved away, I began to wonder...

Have I neglected the inner world within me? Am I losing touch with my thoughts and emotions in the time-squeezed schedule I keep? Are the endless work demands draining my spirit? Have financial responsibilities and interpersonal conflicts sapped my joy? The complexities of life loom like giants to dwarf my soul.

My conversation with this friend was a wake-up call to take stock of my inner person.

The heart is the most important part of us. The writer of Proverbs counsels, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23). Dr John Maxwell, a leading motivational speaker, says that our attitude is the key to success. All that we are going to accomplish in life – whether in our family, ministry or work, hinges on the attitude of our hearts. Our heart is the wellspring of life – the fountain head of all that we will have or experience in this life. Which is why we it is of paramount importance that we guard it well.

But there are enemies of the heart on the prowl. Jesus, knowing what lurks within a man, asked "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your heart?" (Matthew 9:4). Our hearts can be the breeding ground for evil. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matthew 15:19). In the course of my work, I see the full blown consequences of sin regularly – criminals suffering custodial sentences, marriages wrecked by unfaithfulness, siblings fighting over inheritance and business partners slinging mud at each other. All these originate from hearts tainted and poisoned by sinful thoughts and desires.

As we are still in the early part of the year, it is good that we pause and take an inventory of the secret chamber of our hearts where our thoughts and desires often roam freely. Let us take a look within and ask some tough questions like:

1. Over the past week, what were my dominants thoughts? Were my thoughts focused more on God or other things?

2. Were there any fantasies, immoral thought patterns or illicit desires? What do my desires and passions reveal about me?

3. Do I harbour resentment, anger and bitterness against others? Is there jealousy in my heart?

Paul, a first century missionary, told of a coming day when God will judge the world by "bringing to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart." (1 Cor 4:5).

The next time I talk to my lawyer friend, I'll tell him that the greatest case any lawyer will undertake is to stand before God as Judge and to give an account of the matters of the heart.

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