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What is the Heart?

The word “heart” appears in the Bible more than 800 times, but only a handful of these occurrences refer to the physical organ. The rest of the time, “heart” is used to speak of that which is within us—our thoughts, emotions, and will. In fact, “heart” is the richest, most inclusive, and most frequently used Biblical term for man’s complete inner, immaterial nature.

Here are a few Scriptures demonstrating the wide variety of uses for the word “heart” in the Bible.

Conscience: “They were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37). “If our heart condemn us not” (1 John 3:21).

Courage: “He also that is valiant, whose heart is as the heart of a lion” (2 Samuel 17:10). “Made the heart of the people melt” (Joshua 14:8).

Desire and Affections: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Emotions: “Their hearts were mer-ry” (Judges 16:25). “My heart rejoiceth
in the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:1). “Joy of heart … sorrow of heart” (Isaiah 65:14).

Inner Man: “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). “The hidden man of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4).

Place of Faith: “Doubt in his heart” (Mark 11:23). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
(Romans 10:10). “Evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12).

Place of Divine Working: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” (Romans 5:5). “Given the … Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:22).

Standing With God: “A pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). “Create in me a clean heart” (Psalm 51:10). “I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10). “A wicked heart” (Proverbs 26:23).

Thoughts: “Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4). “Reasoning in their hearts” (Mark 2:6).

Whole Self: “Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread” (Judges 19:5).

Will: “Whose heart made them willing” (Exodus 35:29). “Exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).

George Matheson said, “My heart needs Thee, O Lord, my heart needs Thee! No part of my being needs Thee like my heart! All else within me can be filled by Thy gifts. My hunger can be satisfied by daily bread, my thirst by earthly waters, my cold by household fires, my weariness by outward rest. But no outward thing can purify my heart. This world has not provided for my heart. It has provided for my eye, my ear, my touch, my taste, my sense of beauty—but it has not provided for my heart. Provide Thou for my heart, O Lord!”

May this also be the earnest desire of each reader—that removing our sights from sense and self, Christ alone may be the object and satisfaction of our whole heart.

—T. Don Johnson