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The Heart of the Matter

By David Olshine | March 3 2008

During one of my son’s Christmas parties, my chest started to hurt. It lasted all day. Then while watching a college football game on TV that evening, my chest started to tighten. And it wasn’t because my team was losing.

My wife is smart enough to know that you don’t mess with heart stuff, so she sent me to one of those urgent-care hospitals. I waited and waited. As I sat, the area surrounding my heart was feeling heavier and heavier, and I kept thinking, “I could die here, and I’d still have to wait my turn!”

Finally the nurse called me name, and after an hour and a half of blood work and EKG tests, I was sent home with good news. I do have a heart, and it’s in good shape. Turned out lifting weights during the last few days had torn a muscle.

Danger May Be Lurking

Most of us are unaware of our physical heart. It often takes an emergency to get our attention, because we ignore the warning signals. With chest pains, your heart is still functioning but danger may be lurking.

It got me thinking about my spiritual heart. The word “heart” is mentioned hundreds of times in the Scriptures, in a variety of ways. A deceitful heart, a pure heart. A kind heart, a stiff-necked heart. A slowness of heart, and unforgiving and hardening heart. We are to love the Lord with all our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says we are to guard our heart for it is “the wellspring of life.” The Message describes it this way: “Watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” Why does Ephesians 1:18 suggest that “the eyes of your heart be enlightened”? How do I diagnose what is really going on with my spiritual heart?

Where Is Your Treasure?

First, I look at my motives.

Motives are not what I do but why I do what I do. Jesus says, “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself” (Matthew 6:2). Ouch, chest pains.

How many times have I spoken to groups to get applause? How often do I “serve” so I can get kudos from somebody? My prayers can reveal motives. Is it for more stuff? More money? More praise from the crowds? Examine what you pray for and you will see some motives you never knew were there. C.S. Lewis once said, “I’ve never had a selfless thought since I was born.”

Second, I choose to be teachable.

Dr. Tony Campolo spoke at my church two weeks ago. He mentioned in his message that “there are more than 2,000 verses dealing with the poor and when we are judged, we are going to have to be held accountable.” What am I going to do with this statement? Ouch, chest pains.

Third, I must listen to the Spirit.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Ask yourself, what is the Spirit saying to me about me right now? Ouch, chest pains.

Ouch, Chest Pains

In our pop culture, people look to exterior appearances for their standards, modeling after prominent musicians, actors, politicians, and athletes. In God’s economy, the plumb line is the interior stuff, the heart. When the Spirit convicts us or convinces of His ways, it will produce some chest pains. When we have them, we had better act quickly. Apply the words of Jesus to your heart.

“When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”

“Do not worry about your life.”

“Do not judge or you too will be judged.”

Ouch, chest pains.

Pay attention to your heart. It could save your life. 

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