I recently had some concerns about my heart, which turned out to be unfounded. In the process of various tests, one of my atheist friends said to me, “Well, after all, your heart is just a muscle, but I guess you religious guys don’t believe that, do you?” My response was, “Well, you don’t either!” Your heart is more than a muscle.
All of us know that the physical heart beating inside our chest is a muscle. It is probably the most studied muscle in the body. I was fascinated as I watched my heartbeat in the echocardiogram. I was amazed to have the heart specialist point out the valves and the design of the vascular system that feeds blood throughout my body. It was also interesting that I could change the rate of my heartbeat, and in turn, my blood pressure, by thinking about certain things. The technician doing my echocardiogram said, “Oh yes, there’s a lot more to the heart than the muscle.”
In the Bible, the word “heart” has many uses. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “heart” occurs 29 times referring to the physical organ directly or figuratively. (See 1 Samuel 25:37, 2 Samuel 18:14, 2 Kings 9:24.) Old Testament writers use the word 257 times to refer to personality, inner life, or character. (See Exodus 9:14, 1 Samuel 16:7, Genesis 20:5.) An additional 166 times it refers to emotional states of consciousness. Some examples are: intoxication (1 Samuel 25:36), joy or sorrow (Judges 18:20, 1 Samuel 1:8), anxiety (1 Samuel 4:13), courage and fear (Genesis 42:28), and love 2 Samuel 14:1). Also 204 times it refers to intellectual activities such as attention (Exodus 7:23), reflection (Deuteronomy 7:17), memory (Deuteronomy 4:9), understanding (1 Kings 3:9), or technical skill (Exodus 28:3).
Finally, 195 times it refers to volition or purpose (1 Samuel 2:35). This varied use continues in the New Testament with the most common application referring to our mind. (See Mark 12:30-33.) Your heart is more than a muscle.
The point is that the word “heart” is used frequently referring to something that is the center of things and rarely does it refer to the physical heart that beats within our chest. God calls us to put Him and His Word at the center of our lives. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Paul wrote that when “Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,” we can comprehend the love of God (Ephesians 3:17-19). In that sense, it is true that your heart is more than a muscle.
— John N. Clayton © 2019