So I’m thinking, “What if someone told me that Bible verse back when I was 18 years old?” I was an atheist so I would have laughed and smirked. But even if I had listened, I think the problem was mostly just with the word “heart”. Because honestly, I really didn’t know what a heart was.
I probably would have made some sarcastic quip and asked what a “heart” is. I was that bad off. I knew I had a physical heart that pumped blood. But this other idea was pretty nebulous to me. And even if I believed in such a thing, I sure didn’t understand it very much.
And why should I? I got virtually all my information from school, television, newspapers and modern books. Are any of those going to tell me I have a heart? No way. What was really important was my mind. I needed to really work on my mind because that’s where it really was all happening. If I had a great mind, that was all that mattered. If I ever heard about the heart at all, it was through music. Those folks talked about that so I got some ideas through that.
But all the while, sure ‘nuf, I did have a heart. And a spirit and soul as well. And they were not doing very good. At all. I filled my heart with images of sports cars, beautiful women and cool clothes. I had a picture of a really cool foreign sports car on my wall from the time I was about 14. Functionally it was an idol I virtually worshiped. It was my goal in life and I finally got it when I was 20. Like it says in Psalms 106:15 “He gave them the desires of their heart, but sent leanness to their soul.” I got what I wanted, but it was utterly unfulfilling. My heart was full of the wrong things and I didn’t even have the most important thing in my heart, Jesus Christ.
In my case, the sins, foolishness and ignorance of my heart brought me face to face with Death and Satan. It took that and more to bring me to realize that there’s a spiritual world that I’d mocked and denied for so long. But from that experience of hell and its eternal terrors, I came to a knowledge of the God of Abraham and a few months later, of His Son Jesus.
I shockingly found out that I had a soul, a heart and a spirit. These were infinitely more important than my mind and its education. Maybe I couldn’t have learned this any other way. I wouldn’t really listen to anybody so I had to learn the hard way. But I did learn. I knew from experience, not church, that it all comes down to my heart. God had brought me to something I never dreamed or even wanted to happen to me. I’d had a “born again” (John 3:3) experience. I’d gone through a death of my old life and now I was a “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17), truly and fully.
But what was I going to do with it? In Psalm 16:11 King David prayed to the Lord and said “You will show me the path of life”. Would I follow the path of life that He would show me? He wasn’t going to force me. It was my choice. It was up to me. It was my choice that mattered.
Jesus talked about a farmer who went to plant seeds by casting them in his field. Jesus said that some of the seeds fell on stony ground, some on ground with weeds and thorns and some fell on good ground. It was all about our hearts, our relationship to God and His Word. Jesus said that the seed that fell on good ground represented those who, “in an honest and good heart, having heard God’s Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15) An honest and good heart. Not a hardened heart full of stones. Not a worldly heart full of the weeds, cares and values of this evil world. A good heart, a heart that has been kept, guarded and preserved for the goodness of God that can spring up there.
There was a song by a famous American singer, Johnny Cash. It was a song I suppose for his girl friend or wife. But it really had some good words to it. He sang, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time. Because you’re mine, I walk the line.” That could just as easily be a song we could sing or say to the Lord. That’s what it takes. To choose “the path of life”, you have to “keep your heart with all diligence”.