Your heart reveals your deepest desires.
If you want to understand yourself, your spouse, your child, or anyone, you need to understand their heart as best you can.
Would you like to know what causes your fear of public speaking, or your spouse’s brooding, or your child’s backtalk, or a friend’s love of posting selfies on Facebook and Instagram? Then seek to understand the heart. You’ll never know your own heart perfectly — or theirs. Only God does (Psalm 44:21).
In this article, you’ll learn a basic definition of the heart, discover its three main parts, and how God transforms you.
The Heart Defined
You’ve heard a friend say, “I have a broken heart,” haven’t you? She means she’s sad. “Follow your heart” means do what your feel.
Usually people describe it as the emotional part of a person. Scripture suggests that your heart is your mind, emotions, and will. It is the center of your being. You can compare it to a control center. It controls what you think, feel, say, and do.
Proverbs 4:23 says it well:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
And the picture isn’t pretty. Did you know that God nearly wiped out the entire human race? You hear about it in Genesis 6, just three short chapters after the Fall, when Adam and Eve took a bite of disobedience and sin entered the world.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)
The Bible says your heart “tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves,” writes Elyse Fitzpatrick, the author of many books including Idols of the Heart.
As you struggle against sin, God will help you trust him. He will help you desire to do his will always. He knows your struggles, and he loves you completely. You are his. He is transforming you.
3 Parts of the Heart
“Heart” is the word the Bible uses for your mind and your emotions and your will altogether. Your mind, emotions, and will work together and influence one another.
Your mind: Your mind involves your ability to understand, reason, and discern. It includes your beliefs and opinions.
- Taken aback with news from angels about her son, Mary the mother of Jesus “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
- The power of God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)
- As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7, NLT).
Your emotions: Generally, your emotions also include your longings, desires, and hopes.
- But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).
- If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts. . . (James 3:14).
Your will: Your will is the part of your inner person that chooses what actions to take. Your mind and emotions inform your will what to do.
- Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
- Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth (2 Corinthians 12:6)
How God Transforms You
It is possible to change what you think, feel, and do with God’s miraculous help. You need heart change to change your life. Only God can do this.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).
Your transformation is all God!
You were saved by faith and now you are called to live by faith.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).
Living by faith is part of progressive sanctification, and you become more like Jesus Christ in your inner self. God renews your mind and your beliefs, and ultimately your desires. You begin wanting to do God’s will rather than your own. Your heart becomes increasingly Christ-centered. It is decreasingly me-centered.
Changing behavior is never enough. Changing behavior without changing your deepest desires and belief is mere behavior modification. It isn’t lasting. Following man-made rules (i.e., behavior modification) “have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires” (Colossians 2:23b, NLT).
To change your deepest desires, you need heart transformation.