Bleed

What do you see when your eyes are closed? What is it you think when your mind isn’t occupied? What do you hear when there are no sounds? Who are you when “you’re not you?”

The single answer to all of those questions is: your heart.

What do I mean by “heart,” you ask? Let me explain.

The heart I refer to is figurative. It is not the literal blood-pumping, muscular organ stashed away in our human bodies. But just because the use of “heart” is linguistically figurative here, it does not mean that it is not a very real and very powerful part of every human being. I believe we possess both a physical heart and a soul-seated heart. I know, not exactly a new concept, right? Stay with me.

See, much like the heart in our bodies, the heart in our soul is a central thing, regulating the substances that sustain our functionality. Simply put, both of our hearts keep us alive — or not, depending on how we take care of them. If we eat right and exercise, our physical heart is going to be in good working condition. If we stay humble and walk with Christ, our soul-seated heart is going to be in good working condition.

Before I say more, let’s do a quick examination of what the Scriptures have to say about the heart:

There really are two kinds of them, and God is strong for both: Psalm 73:26

You shouldn’t trust it: Jeremiah 17:9

We are required to yield it to Someone trustworthy: Proverbs 3:5

It’s the most important thing to guard and protect: Proverb 4:23 (awesome little blog post about that here)

It can break, but there’s hope: Psalm 34:18

God can see it: Psalm 26:2

God will guard it: Philippians 4:7

It is where praise comes from: Psalm 9:1

It has desires that God will honor: Psalm 37:4

It needs routine maintenance: Psalm 51:10

 I love going to the scriptures and finding solid, factual statements like the ones above. It reminds me that the heart is something to pay attention to, and not just something to feel. 

Have you ever stopped to listen to all the individual things that pour out of the heart inside your soul? I promise you it’s not a quiet place. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I mostly depend on my feelings instead of purposefully gazing into my heart of hearts and recognizing what I’m really feeling and what I’m truly experiencing on the inside. And when I rely on feeling, here’s what makes its way from my heart to my lips…

“I’m happy.”

“I’m sad.”

“I’m just not in a good mood today.”

“I need a hug.”

“I love you.”

“I’m here for you.”

“I hate this.”

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“I’m so excited.”

“I’m torn.”

There are so many emotions that come from a heart. It’s a deep and complex area of ourselves that harbors immense volumes of emotion and thoughts and feelings and and and…

Have you ever thought about all the things that come out of a literal blood-pumping heart?

Blood… that’s it.

I’d like to make an important comparison here.

How often do we physically bleed? Usually just whenever we get hurt or get a vial drawn at the doctor. Pretty typical, right?

But… how often do we spiritually bleed? How often do the contents of our soul-seated heart show up? Where in our lifetime does our soul open up long enough to release the contents of what’s inside? I don’t know about you, but I see the contents of my heart most (like with my physical body) when I get hurt or when it gets drawn out of me. When I am emotionally pained, that’s when the rage shows. That’s when the anger rises up. That’s when the need for justice and correction and defense comes flowing out of me. And it also shows when it’s drawn out of me. When God allows a situation into my life that I can’t control, I have no choice but to respond somehow. And -usually- that’s with my emotions or my feelings — with my heart.

So, I have a question for all of us.

What do we bleed?

Do we bleed the many emotions and complexity that lives within the instant-response area of our fleshly hearts? Or do we bleed the singular, radiant proclamation that is Christ’s testimony?

Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I’m currently doing a book study called Changed Into His Image, in which the author, Jim Berg, writes about the heart being like a tea bag.

“When we take a tea bag, place it in a teacup, and fill the cup with hot water, the water activates the tea in the bag, unleashing its taste into the water around it.

The hot water didn’t create the taste; it merely revealed, or drew out, what was already in the bag.

This depicts what happens in the human heart. The pressures around us (the unfavorable circumstances, the temptations, and the commands of God to love Him and our neighbor) merely draw out of our heart what is already in it.

We cannot blame the hot water for the taste in the cup. The contents of the tea bag determine the flavor of the tea. If we don’t like the particular taste, we need to put into the water a bag containing a different kind of tea.”

[From Changed Into His Image, page 4, by Jim Berg. Tea bag illustration adapted from J. Allan Petersen, Your Reactions Are Showing, page 14-15]

The contents of my heart — the lifeblood that flows through it — determines my responses to life situations. And unless I am consistently following the warnings and encouragements from the above list of heart-related scriptures, I will be bleeding my “old man” blood. I will be steeping my “old ways” teabag.

Friends, unless we completely and radically allow Christ to change and regenerate and constantly occupy our hearts, we cannot live out the testimony of Christ as we should. The Bible makes it clear that our hearts are too deceptive for own our trust and maintenance. We must grant God supremacy in our soul-seated hearts, and only then will He begin to change us -from the inside out- into the image of His Son.

We must reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ through our words, our actions, and in our hearts. It is because of our old selves and old ways and this sinful world we live in that we must ever be becoming more like Christ. And like Christ, the love of the Father must be so evident in our hearts that when the world draws from us a response that there can be no fleshly answer to, we are left with one single option.

We must bleed.

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