Solomon describes the importance of the heart in Proverbs 4:23:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The heart is like an artesian spring. All our hopes, dreams, and desires gush from the heart. Every drive for meaning and significance originates in the heart. Our behavior flows from the heart—it isn’t caused by circumstances or other people. The heart, with its passions and desires, is the wellspring of life.
Recently, Radio Shack had a sale on little matchbox-size remote control cars. “What a fun thing for the grandchildren to play with at grandpa’s house,” I thought. The next week they were all at our house for a family meal. I got the car out and the children began playing with it. Six children, one car; what was this grandfather thinking?
Within a few minutes I observed one of my grandsons following his sister around imploring her, “Emily (names changed to protect the guilty), remember that Jesus says we should share. Remember that we are to do to another as we would have them do to us. You should be kind and give me a turn.”
All these statements are true. And he didn’t bowl her over and run off with the controller. But even the most superficial observer knows that this four-year-old was not motivated by concern for his sister’s spiritual growth. He didn’t care about whether her behavior was Christ-like. He was pursuing the desires of his heart. Every parent has asked, “Why did you do that?” and then were met with a shrug of the shoulders and “I dunno.” Children often react without thought and they are not self-conscious about their motives.
The Heart’s Actions
We think of the heart as the emotional organ and the mind as the cognitive organ, but the Bible does not support that idea. The decisions and choices we make in life originate with what we love and desire. The Bible refers to this source as the “heart.” Therefore, activities we identify as cognitive are activities of the heart. There are over 750 references to the heart in God’s Word. The Scriptures tell us that the heart conceals, discerns, instructs, meditates, muses, perceives, plans, plots, ponders, thinks, and weighs. Though we know scientifically that it is the brain that processes and organizes data, it is the heart that directs even those activities.