My daughter Sarah got married recently. Before her wedding day, she took some of the lace from my mother’s wedding dress, the same dress I wore for my wedding, and she sewed it into her dress in the shape of a heart. She surprised both of us with it on the day she got married.
That heart, hidden from view during the entire ceremony, reflected a great truth: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord always sees our hearts, and He tells us over and over in His Word that He cares about the fabric of our hearts—what’s in them, what flows out of them, and how we control them.
We each decide what we will allow into our hearts, and those things influence us. That’s why Philippians 4:8, NASB, says, “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” That word dwell means to store up as inventory [in the mind, heart]. The Lord wants us to store up good things in our hearts, so we will be healthy spiritually, in the same way our doctors want us to eat nutritious food versus junk food in order to have healthy bodies.
Inflows come through what we allow ourselves to see, hear, and experience. Jesus said, “‘The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness’” (Luke 11:34, NASB). He even went as far as to say, “‘If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you’” (Matthew 18:9, NASB). He wasn’t encouraging people to gouge out their eyes, but He was directing them to set up appropriate boundaries—to even refuse to allow their eyes to see certain things—so that they could live abundant lives spiritually, emotionally, and physically and not be hurt by sin.
Our ears also bring influences into our hearts—the things we listen to and accept. The scriptures warn us, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB). In other words, people often listen to things that make them feel good for the moment or that align with what they want, but those teachings aren’t truth and won’t benefit them in the long run. The Lord says, “Listen, O my people, to My instruction; incline your ears to the words of My mouth” (Psalm 78:1, NASB). We are encouraged to treasure His Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).
Our hearts are also shaped by the people we allow into our “inner circle” of close friendships. David’s friend Jonathan “encouraged him in God” (1 Samuel 23:16, NASB); whereas, Amnon’s friend Jonadab convinced Amnon to rape his sister and even concocted a plan on how to do it (2 Samuel 13:1-6). Proverbs 27:17, NASB, says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” 1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB, warns, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
As I looked at the heart on my daughter’s wedding dress, I thought about my mother and the many ways she has shaped the fabric of my heart. She has taught me a great deal about kindness, patience, and love. She inspires me to emulate these qualities. I know her relationship with the Lord produces this beautiful fruit in her life, so she has taught me the importance of that, too.
Whatever we allow to influence our hearts also impacts what comes out of our hearts. The Lord wants good to flow out of our lives. That’s why He says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NASB). Jesus said, “‘The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart’” (Matthew 12:34, NASB). He also said, “‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man’” (Matthew 15:19-20, NASB). That’s why it says in Psalm 19:14, NASB, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” There is a direct line from our hearts to our mouths and actions.
Romans 12:2, NASB, commands us, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In Biblical times, the mind and heart were considered to be the same thing. The word renewing in this verse means renovation. When we renovate a house, we throw out the old stuff and put in the new. With our hearts, it means getting rid of old, worldly thinking and replacing it with the truth in God’s Word. When we do that, God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will can be seen in our lives. We live God’s way for others to see Him in us.
The Control Center
The word heart in the scriptures means the mind, will, and emotions, the control center of our lives. There’s a constant battle over who’s in charge, who operates the control center: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another (Galatians 5:16-17, NASB).
The Lord gave us His Holy Spirit when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is our Helper (John 14:26). He lives in our hearts, but we decide if we are going to listen to, trust in, and act on what He says. We can follow His leading or the leading of our flesh. We decide. That’s why the heart is the control center. Ephesians 5:18, NASB, says, “be filled with the Spirit.” I listened to a Walk in the Word radio broadcast recently, where it said, “To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be thoroughly permeated, entirely influenced, and completely controlled by the Holy Spirit.” We decide if that happens in our hearts.
I loved seeing the lace heart sewn into my daughter’s wedding dress. It reminded me of the beautiful hearts the Lord intends for us to have. We just have to release our hearts to Him so He can make them stunning . . . from the inside, out.
Question: What are some ways you have been led to give the Holy Spirit greater control over your heart? Share with us at the link below!
1 Samuel 16:7; Philippians 4:8; Luke 11:34; Matthew 18:9; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Psalm 78:1; 119:11; 1 Samuel 23:16; 2 Samuel 13:1-6; Proverbs 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34; 15:19-20; Psalm 19:14; Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:16-17; Ephesians 1:13-14; John 14:26; Ephesians 5:18