The type of person we are is determined by our heart. Spiritually speaking our heart is not the muscle that pumps blood through our body, rather it is the core of who we are. It controls our emotions, our wills, and our minds. Who we are on the outside is a reflection of our hearts.
The sad reality is that we all have hearts that have been wounded, damaged, and corrupted. This is because we live in a world where sin and rebellion are the norm, and therefore it is impossible to escape life with a heart that is intact. Our wounded and corrupted hearts make it hard to respond to the various situations of life in ways that are loving, kind, and generous.
God promised that when His Kingdom comes He would give His people new hearts; And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart (Ezekiel 36:26; NLT). When we surrender our lives to God by faith in Jesus, we are given a new heart.
If we have been given new hearts, then it is vital that we guard them. King Solomon wrote; Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23; NLT). Our hearts set the direction of our lives, so we must do everything in our power to keep it from corruption.
We also have to learn to live from our new hearts. Jesus said; “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45; NLT). Because of the corruption of our hearts we have a will and a flesh that have learned to behave in certain sinful patterns. This means we have to retrain our wills and our flesh to follow the direction of our hearts.
When our hearts function as they should, then we will respond to the circumstances of life in a manner that honors God. Dallas Willard wrote:
Those with a well-kept heart are persons who are prepared for and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that are good and right. Their will functions as it should, to choose what is good and avoid what is evil, and the other components of their nature cooperate to that end. They need not be “perfect”; but what all people manage in at least a few times and areas of life, they manage in life as a whole.
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, p. 29
One of the promises of the New Covenant is that we are given new hearts, but many of us have not learned how to live from them. Our lives are still determined by the old patterns set by our corrupted hearts, and therefore we do not feel like we are part of God’s new creation. The purpose of spiritual formation is teach us to live by the good that is in our new hearts, hearts that have God’s Law written on them (Hebrews 10:16). Our goal needs to be: to align our wills and our bodies to the good that is found in our hearts.