It’s another year, and we’re already a few days in. This time around, I haven’t heard much about new year’s resolutions. Honestly, I haven’t set some myself. As I was thinking through what I could do better this year, one thing kept coming up: my heart.
The heart is a very complex place. It does a lot of things for us, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It’s where we store our most unforgettable moments and hopes and dreams we cannot even put into words. It’s also where we can breed very dangerous things such as envy and offence without even knowing it.
The heart of man is desperately wicked
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The first time I came across this verse, I was like, “Eish, what a description! How can it possibly be?” But someway somehow, various scenes of life have proven this verse in many ways. I’ve even heard a few people describe others’ hearts as “blacker than black” (wow) due to one offence, disappointment, or another they may have experienced, sometimes from people they didn’t expect. Many tragic stories of betrayal, downfalls, and so on started with a seed that took root in the heart, became uncontrollable, and manifested into something unrecognizable. Jesus knew what He meant when He said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34).
The verse about the heart’s deceit continues, saying, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”
Everything we do (and say) has consequences. Sometimes not so immediate, sometimes very swift. If you’ve ever tried to hide how you feel about someone, chances are, it has eventually shown, in subtle ways, because of what has been constantly stored in the heart. There have been times I have allowed things such as offence to fester in my heart, which could even manifest into chest pains! Your heart literally pains you when you see or even hear of the one who wronged you. The Ga expression “noko nfeeemii!” describes it accurately, with the literal translation being “Something is doing me!”
So as you’re reading this, what is “doing you?”
I’ve come to realize the one who said keeping offences in your heart hurts you more than the one who offended you knew what they were talking about. Whatever we fail to bridle will eventually get out of control. With that in mind, we shouldn’t only pray against wicked hearts that have arisen against us. We should also consciously pray about our own hearts to avoid becoming the very things we dislike or fear.
Search my heart
Thankfully, we don’t have to handle our heart’s condition alone. Just as we are encouraged to eat well and exercise to keep our hearts in good condition, we can also do something about our hearts’ spiritual and emotional state. A daily conscious effort to start with a clean slate. How do we do that? Like the psalmist said in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Asking God to search our hearts daily can go a long way. Sometimes it’ll shock us what is in our hearts if we take the time to dissect it. But constantly yielding it to God to operate on it, test it, and renew it will give us the heart we need to see Him clearly, love others unconditionally, and above all, be the people God has called us to be.
So above all, guard your heart
So, what are you harboring in your heart today? That is not to say you can deal with all of it in a day’s work. But you can start little by little. Watch what you feed your heart and mind, and allow God to do His spiritual checkup daily. Write down how you feel or talk to a trusted person (emphasis on trusted!) if you need an outlet to vent. Be real about your feelings and allow yourself to process your thoughts, so you can have an honest conversation and let go. Separate yourself from things, and people, that you know are not healthy for your heart and growth. It may not always be easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.
You may not have set your new year’s resolutions yet. But whatever your goals may be, don’t forget to constantly oil the little machine that keeps you functioning in more ways than you think…your heart.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23