Christian Living

Heart and Head

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."—Mark 12:30

Condensed from a discourse.

What MATTERS to us? What concerns us? What are the issues of our lives? What will affect our destiny, our role? How do issues arise, and where are they resolved?

Does control and understanding of deep concerns depend on our position, on what others do or say? Or do they find resolution within our own being? Does it make any difference how we see matters, how we are compelled and constrained by outward circumstances peculiar to our health, family and economics?

This will not be simply a self-help message, expounding the power of positive thinking. We want to provide some tools to build our outward relations and to help our inner New Creasture.

Heart OR Head?

We observe the age-old emphasis on either the heart or head: -"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts." (Psa. 139:23)

We understand the HEART to be the inner self that thinks, feels and desires, the true character or personality. It is pure or evil, sincere or superficial, obedient or rebellious. God knows the heart of each person. "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature . . . for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (I Sam. 16:7)

The head or MIND is more associated with the intellect, the knowledge, the academic part of life associated with facts.

Heart AND Head

David uses both these faculties to admonish his son in I Chron. 28:9:

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts.

One might contend that unless we get the facts and truth straight, there is no basis for character. Proverbs 4:5,7:

"Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth . . . Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."

Another could contend (with Paul) that knowledge tends to pride,—Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; (1 Cor. 13:1) and that by keeping the heart, the issues of life will be resolved—Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Prov. 4:23)

We maintain that these two aspects of our nature cannot really be separated or one ignored without debilitating the other. Paul meant knowledge alone is as sounding brass.

Adam’s Heart and Peter’s Heart

Adam’s decision to disobey was with knowledge and intellect, thereby incurring responsibility and consequence of the curse. But imagine the heart involved when Eve handed him the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was fear of loneliness, and a daring to reach beyond obedience. His mind yielded to the feelings in his heart. We are all born as victims of this imbalance, often yielding to our feelings, when the head loses its direction.

There are also examples where the head overpowers the heart. In Peter’s case, his heart was right; but he was not sufficiently armed with a deep assurance of the facts of the case. The pressures of being with Jesus, watching the trial proceedings and the travesty of justice, overpowered his heart. It trembled for the moment.

There were other examples of the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and later the Gnostics, whose intellectual powers alone ruled over the humility of heart and character that might have otherwise prevailed. There was Solomon, who began with a humble heart and strong intellect, whose heart turned to pleasure of the flesh, while his better judgment turned the other way. In our century, there were those during the holocaust whose weak heart paralyzed them in the face of terror and propaganda. The whole person must have full access to both head and heart. The heart is defined as the faculty that feels or identifies with any issue. In Acts 11:23, it is expressed as purpose of heart.

The Sail and the Rudder

The heart is compared to the sail of a ship, and the intellect to the rudder. It is a disaster to be at sea without both. However, to one trimming his sails, it may seem that the intellectual pursuits are countering and impeding his focus and efforts. To the one charting a course through the pools of doctrine, philosophy, truth or fabrication, the heart may be viewed as an emotional diversion not to be trusted.

We need not only each other, to listen to the working of the spirit in each other, but we need strong ingredients of both heart and mind in our own constitution. No one sets out to discover new worlds without a map, but also with a strong heart of courage and hope. Sometimes the journey dulls the edge of either joy or judgment, and the ocean begins to flood the decks of our vessel. We may be carrying excess ballast in the lower rooms of the heart or driven onto rocks by broken rudders of the mind.

God Expects Us to Act

There is something for us to do in these matters. Just because we have turned our life over to God, our work is not ended. He still expects us to make decisions. Our burdens do not automatically melt away. We do not experience joy without effort. There are things we can and must do.

"Study (give diligence) to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."—2 Timothy 2:15

Study God’s Word, study our life and times, study God’s will. The noblest employment of mind is the study of our Creator’s works.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."—Proverbs 1:7:

The reverence with which this is pursued is expressed in Isaiah 66:2: "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

"The fear (reverence) of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments." (Psa. 111:10) This is a rule that will cut to the bone.

There is no learning without reverence. Knowledge without reverence will poison the soul.

Education does not consist merely in learning facts. True instruction sows seed for future use and springs forth into godly endeavor and activity. Without study, there is no seed of divine sanction.

A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds; and good deeds are never lost! Action without study is fatal, just as study without action is fatal. (Col. 1:10) "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

As Students, We Grow

How do we grow in ways where we are deficient? We acknowledge we are students and we need teachers. We listen to those who traveled this way before us.

Each generation tends to distrust previous experience or explanations from those who are more cautious about moving mountains and rushing into battle. Youth is ready to pick up the gauntlet of any cause.

Many movements for revolution are launched from universities by students bent on changing the course of history. It is not that their causes are necessarily wrong; however, there is often an abundance of adrenaline in the initial emotion and somewhat less substance to maintain the momentum.

If we set out on the work of consecration, let us heed the words of Luke 14:28-30 (NIV): "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish."

In the school of Christ, we are the students, he is the teacher. Others have gone before us and are our tutors. It is presumptuous for us to tell our teacher how and what to teach us while we are beginning our studies. Such are the impulses of youth. We must not give up zeal and vision, or we will not persevere to finish the course. Fortunately, zeal and vision are assets of youth.

Human Helps In Our Lifetime

Many young Christians have the good fortune to meet some old soldiers of the cross, who labored in the heat of the day, fought battles for truth and stood for principle through decades of change.

Listen to their stories of contending for truth in the midst of error. These are scholars of experiential knowledge. Some have witnessed as they faced a prison sentence or ordered to leave town. Some have tracted whole towns single-handed and established new ecclesias. Some traveled to foreign lands. Some have been transformed from nominal Christians to truly consecrated Christians.

Listen to their accounts of organizing the principles and vision of truth. They are grand teachers. Their lessons will burn into your memory. You will need many years to catch up with them. They are the best teachers, who have practiced their faith and put it to the test. They are careful about both the letter and the spirit of the Word. They are leaving the next generation the tools to learn from their discoveries.

Who were their teachers? They were the prophets, the patriarchs, the apostles, the fathers in Zion, who in turn were taught by the Son of God. In the Kingdom, may we be in a position to meet them all and tell them their labors and words did not fall on deaf ears.

Homework and the Laboratory

Are we doing our homework today? There are no short cuts. It is essential to read the Scriptures, read the expositors God has used, read visionary, inspiring and classical themes. Consider the six volumes of Scripture Studies, and meditate on their contemporary message.

Homework also includes lab-work. Put the vision to work, and our shoes to the street. Comfort those that mourn. Restore the crippled in spirit. Display the truth on unpopular causes for the sake of principle. Lift up the weary hands. Weep with those who weep. Patiently bear with those in the undone condition of this world. Prove the truth in the crucible of life and personal opportunities.

It is like taking hot iron from the fire and thrusting it into the oil to temper the steel. If we come through with a more holistic view of humanity and ourselves, it will prepare us to go again to the vision to fuel further endeavor, till the work is done.

Perseverance, Transformation

New Creature work is a transformation, a renewing process similar to a metamorphosis more than a single experience of rapture. It is the tempering of steel more than the elation of first coming into Christ.

It is sacrifice, service, forbearance, endeavor as good soldiers of the cross. A good soldier does not cumber himself with the material things and concerns or even his own comfort. He does not debate his cause nor question his purpose. He perseveres for the sake of the vision and hope before him.

The Den of Lions And the Home Fires

Daniel was as peaceful in the den of lions as he was in the palace of the king. We will never be sure that we have that inner strength until we have spent some time with the lions.

All good soldiers are not in the front lines. They are not always with lions. Some tend the home fires and nourish and comfort others, as Aquila and Priscilla did. Some carry water or send messages of courage to those faint in battle. Some mend the clothes, bind the wounds, and pray for the victory, as Dorcas did.

Every campaign needs every body member, and victory will belong to the whole family of Christ.

FREE GRACE means it came to us without our merit. It does not mean it is free of responsibility and commitment.

There must be joy and hope along the way to feed both the heart and mind.

The soldier’s song is one of courage and hope in his mission. These warriors tell stories of valor around nightly fires. They learn to trust each other for support in the face of the next day’s battle.

Warriors of the Past

How idealistic! Philosophy is easy to discuss. But there are those who went before us who struggled with real lessons of heart and head. Here are some experiences of the past. Identify the role of heart or head which prevailed. Think whether it should have been otherwise. Identify parallels in your own life:

Jeremiah said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

David and Jonathan broke company while Saul’s wrath was hot.

David arranged for Uriah to die in the forefront of battle.

After Elimelech’s death, Naomi never remarried.

Ruth persisted, against Naomi’s advice to stay with her own people.

Samson told the secrets of his strength to Delilah. Later he determined to die while destroying a Philistine temple.

Josiah denied Pharaoh-Necho’s request for passage and died in battle.

Joseph tested then blessed his brothers who sold him into slavery.

Daniel and his friends chose not to defile themselves with the king’s table. Yet Daniel served the pagan king.

John the Baptist pointed the finger of guilt and bore the wrath of a demented king.

Paul never married or raised an earthly family.

Paul disregarded the advice of brethren and proceeded to Jerusalem and the temple, and was taken by Roman authorities.

Jesus told his disciples not to go into the way of Gentiles, yet he healed the daughter of a Syrophenician woman, the servant of a Roman centurion, a Samaritan leper, and preached the good news to a Samaritan woman by the well.

What prompted and guided these choices?

We Need One Another!

Life’s experiences may tell us not to trust, that we were left alone in the storm before, that the brethren know nothing of our experiences or condition. But others have gone before us!

We pray for one another, even when no words are exchanged between us. We need one another’s experiences and lessons to see something through the other’s eyes when our vision is too narrow and self-focused. We need one another!

Our life and lessons are not finished. We must be careful not to measure our requests and demands according to the flesh, according to human rights, comforts, pleasures or successes. We may not even expect equity or justice in all our human endeavors from employers, home, mates, children, parents, health or economics.

Sacrifice and Inequity

We made a choice to sacrifice. But as life begins to weigh heavy on our shoulders, our flesh cries out for at least a level playing field with the rest of humanity, or maybe a little better. It seems to us to be only just.

Our experiences may not seem just or fair at times. One has health, another has pain of the flesh for many years. One prospers in the temporal estate, another can hardly lift his head above poverty. One has a supporting family, which another is denied. One easily manages fleshly indulgence, another constantly fights temptation.

Our heart may complain, and our head rationalize. Or we may bear our experiences when they cannot be changed. But we can learn through adversity. We can bear the consequences of our folly as good disciplines, or we may choose to blame others. It is a matter of choice.

A Matter of Choice

Let us be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

We can curse the night, or see the handiwork of our Creator in the stars.

We can be angry at the fire that burns our flesh, or be thankful that we shall be sacrificed so soon.

Let us leave a fragrance behind us on our journey. It will involve risk, to expose both our strength and weakness, to face our fears.

Take the extra steps to forgive. Truly listen to instruction.

Love others. Tell them we love them. If they are not lovable, our love may empower them to be so.

Here am I. Send me, even when we would rather be elsewhere.

The work of our heart (feelings, character, motives) and mind (understanding, reasoning, conviction) is a maturing process; and neither can be neglected. Paul said in I Corinthians 13:11:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Putting Away Childish Things

What does the Christian put away when he matures? Fear, excuses, rationalization, prejudice, fantasies, illusions. Particularly, we put away our dependency on others for the consequences of our conduct.

A child is fed, turned, bathed, and cleaned. An adult will feed himself, and take responsibility for his mistakes and clean up after himself. He takes pleasure in the good effect of his labors, and plans for the future.

An adult will learn by his mistakes and use his victories as stepping stones. A responsible Christian grows strong in knowing that his choices arise from within and are not imposed upon him externally.

Do we whine and fuss when we are not fed? Or do we feed self, then others?

"JUST DO IT"

There is a slogan: "JUST DO IT." We cannot coast into worthy endeavors. We must take ourselves to task and JUST DO IT.

Most of the battle is won with decision and commitment. It begins with choices.

Without commitment and a cause, the issues of the heart and mind are in constant turmoil. Dwell on beautiful themes, courageous ventures, daring dreams. Let them burn in our heart. We must dwell on the rules of the truth, prophecy, and historical and contemporary issues, if we would have our mind’s eye clear. The work is not yet done.

The heart must consult the head for the hope, the vision and a cause for which to endure the rigors of life. "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." The clearer the eye, the stronger the heart!

It was observed in the concentration camps of Europe, that those who had hope and a reason to live could endure nearly any deprivation. And when faced with death, they died with courage and dignity, knowing their cause would survive their transient life. Those without hope often died of their own demoralization even before the ultimatum.

Those who look to each day as the ultimate goal of satisfaction will find despair at every corner. Only when we can see beyond the storm do we have the power to prevail.

When a man finds his place in God’s plans, he can accept suffering as part of his task. He will acknowledge that even in suffering he can find unique opportunity in the way he bears his burden. He can bring light and joy to others in the midst of struggle.

Our Vision of the Future

The world may say, "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger." We Christians say, "That which takes our life brings us victory and will empower us to be instruments of blessing to mankind."

We are convinced that when we rest from our labors, our works will follow us beyond the veil. Therefore, we are moved to do his works according to his plan.

We understand that our labor in the king’s service is not in vain, but will endure beyond this transient life.

We are in preparation for a role beyond this schooling.

When we understand that our experiences will bear fruit for eternity, we need not despair at our immediate burdens and consequences. Anything endured now is but an opportunity to reaffirm our vision of the future.

As the work progresses, our joy will be more calm and peaceful. Spiritual maturity begets a mellowness and assurance that will not only be trusted with the divine nature, but will be prepared to care for and guide humanity back to the Edenic estate where love wells up in each heat to meet every other heart and there will be no more pain, no more curse.