Don Henley’s song “Heart of the Matter” is considered by many as the best love song ever. Valentine’s Day was all about hearts and flowers. The heart is a common theme in the Scriptures:
Luke comments that after hearing that the Jesus they had crucified “God has made Him both Lord and Christ” and they were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).
Peter urged that we “love. . . from the heart” (I Peter 1:22.
And Luke drawing our attention to detail so we might have confidence in the resurrection writes: “did not our hearts burn within us”; and how we are slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25, 32).
You have a heart . . . a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood to all parts of your body. It’s about the size of a fist and weighs from ten to twelve ounces. A woman’s heart weighs about two ounces less, so it might be said, jokingly, that men have more heart than women.
The heart is shaped somewhat like a pear and is located to the left of the middle of the chest, slightly slanted. The widest part is on top and the narrower point – where you can feel it “beat” – is below and to the left.
The heart itself is divided into four sections, or chambers, two of which are called auricles, and two ventricles. The chambers are connected by valves, which keep the blood flowing in one direction. A wall called the septum divides the heart into the left and right sections, which are not connected but which operate together.
Your heart is an amazing mechanism. Although it is made of strong muscles, the heart is a delicately adjusted instrument. Though the workings of the heart were not understood until about 370 years ago, people have known its importance to the body for a much longer time. They knew that the heart was necessary for life, and they also believed that it was the seat of the emotions, or feelings. The emotions of love were supposed to come from the heart, and so people came to use the word heart as another word for love and liking and sympathy. The shape of love, which means it stood for love just as a red traffic light stands for “stop.” On St. Valentine’s Day people still send Valentine cards in the form of hearts, and use terms of endearment such as “sweetheart.” The quality of bravery was also thought, and some people still say “He has great heart,” meaning “He has great courage.”
“Heart” is probably the most important anthropological work in the scriptures There are 814 references (Harper’s Bible Dictionary) to the human heart, most of which refer to it as the center of emotions, feelings, moods, and passions, such as joy, grief, ill-temper, love, courage, and fear. There are negative and positive aspects: a swollen heart breeds arrogance, which is in marked contrast to the gentle and lowly heart of Jesus (Mt. 11:29).
The heart also represents the idea of volition and conscience. A pure heart is the desire for a new and more perfect conscience. Since the heart is the center for decisions, obedience, devotion, and intentionality, it represents the total human person. Within the heart, human beings meet God, and thus it is the location where conversion takes place. It is the seat of one’s inner most being. (All this is seen in the four biblical references above)
Two stories that reference the heart seemed apropos to finish this article.
Horace Mann, the renowned educator, wrote this bit on the heart for schoolchildren of Chautauqua County, New York, back in 1891:
“A boy’s heart is not like his vest or his jacket, which would be split open if he should grow into a man in five minutes. The heart may be very small – so small as only to embrace one’s self in its thoughts and desires - this makes a very mean, selfish person. The heart may be enlarged so as to embrace a town - this makes a good townsman. Or it may take in one’s whole nation - this makes a patriot. Or it may take in all mankind - this makes a philanthropist. Or it may embrace in its affections the whole universe and the Creator of it - this makes one godlike.” (Life and Works, Vol. V, p. 262).
With a bit of inspired fancy to get some points across, Missionary John R. Schmitz, created an Olympics scenario in which Jesus picked his twelve disciples. It goes like this:
“First came the prayer event. People had practiced and it showed in the speed with which they could recite the words. Some articulated the words with utmost precision. Some used big impressive words. Still others expressed lofty ideas. But when it came time for a winner to be selected, Jesus chose none. There didn’t seem to be any heart in their prayers. They were just words.
“Second came the worship event. These contestants too had done their homework. Some wore beautiful garments. Some used lots of incense. Some emphasized music. Others incorporated gestures. But again, when it was selection time, there was no winner. There didn’t seem to be any heart in worship. It was too showy.
“Third came the teaching event. This was a prepared group. Some came with elaborate posters. Some came with long, well-ordered talks. Some came with VHS video recorders. Others came with their small groups to demonstrate process. Again, no winners. There was no heart in their teaching. The methods seemed more important.
“So the Olympics ended. No winners, no apostles. Exhausted after the experience, Jesus went down to the lake to relax. Then the miracle happened. He saw people fishing. Now there were some people who put their hearts into what they were about. So he chose them.”"