What Is the ‘Heart’ We Hear and Talk About?

January 9, 2020
Growth, Maturity

Is our heart something more than the physical organ that pumps life giving blood through our natural body? What actually is the ‘heart’ we all hear and talk about? And shouldn’t we want to know how Scripture defines it?

God’s word confirms our heart can be elated and saddened, hurt and healed, mean and wicked, corrupted and purified, as well as loving and good as gold. Certainly, this describes much more than the function of a physical organ.

Scripture further says God looks beyond natural appearances and searches the heart to observe who we really are (a). [see end notes for Scriptures] To ‘search’ is more than a casual action. If our heart is what God observes as our most ‘revealing’ feature, then we want to understand what He considers our heart to be, so we can give it appropriate attention.

Is Heart Our Soul or Spirit?

We know mankind began as a thoughtful desire in God, to parent offspring (Genesis 1:26). After creating the natural universe, God formed the first man’s body from earthly elements and infused it with a portion of His Spirit (b). Then God divided the one being into two and formed a female with a unique ability and personality. This equipped ‘them’ and consequently us, to assist God in birthing His vast family into existence (c).

The unique blend of an earthly body and heavenly spirit equips everyone with natural and spiritual sensibilities. This enables each person to relate and interact with our heavenly Father and one another. As the new beings began to experience relational life, their consciousness (soul) ‘became’—began to develop. Scripture is clear; we too experience the development of soul and are a combination of three components: body, spirit and soul (d).

Once I clearly understood ‘what’ we are as a being and how our body, soul and spirit function as a blended composite, a question occurred. So I asked God, “Where does our heart fit into this picture?” I wondered, as most assume, “Is heart our soul or our spirit?”

Body, soul and spirit function together. Many assume our heart is either our soul or spirit.

Revealing Insight about Heart

I felt God direct me to examine Scripture, with an open mind, and observe how He speaks of the heart. A thorough study revealed the heart is connected to every part of our being; body, soul and spirit; especially to our soul’s conscious mind, will, and emotion. Then the light came on!

Heart is not simply one of our parts; it represents our entire inner self. God looks beyond our created natural body and any value it may bring to the equation and beyond the deposit of His Spirit in us, to view our developing inner self. What we come to personally think, feel and believe about natural and spiritual realities, God, ourselves, and life itself forms our heart – the real you. Yes, Scripture speaks of our inner self as our heart.

One insightful verse says; I, the Lord, search the heart, I test (to develop) the mind (Hebrew: inner self), even to give to every man (person) according to his ways (e).

God searched the heart of the lad David (f), then later as a king, David prayed; Search me…and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (g). David realized the importance of his heart.

Heart is not simply one of our parts; it represents our entire inner self.

Added Value of Function

Ancient Greek scholars believed that everything is the sum total of its parts, and a description of the parts adequately describes the thing. This formula however, fails to consider the added value that is created by function. When parts are assembled and function as a unit, they create a tremendous value that exceeds the sum of its parts.

For example, when lamp parts are assembled and function as a unit, light is produced, a significantly greater value than simply a pile of wires, bulbs, and bases. Similarly, individual airplane parts assembled as a unit are intended to function with the added value of flight.

In much the same fashion, God assembled the human spirit, soul and body to produce the added value of ‘self.’ The greater purpose of our components is to function and produce personhood; unique children of the Father of all. God searches and observes how well we are functioning and developing in this deeper purpose.

God assembled the human spirit, soul and body to produce the added value of ‘self.’

Heart Shows Who We Are

Let’s put this into context. What we are as a being is not ‘who’ we are as a person. Rather, the function of our ‘what’ components creates our inner self, who we are individually. This is the added value of heart.

What we personally think and feel about our natural and spiritual experiences adds to developing our beliefs of what is true or false. Each experience we encounter tends to stir us to react. Our expressions then illustrate our real self and reveal ‘who’ we are as a person.

The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart (h).
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment (i).

Scripture is clear, our body, soul, and spirit define ‘what’ we are as a being. Beyond that, our heart is seen in the expressions that emanate from us, revealing the status and maturity of our developing self.

Representing our inner self, our heart adjusts and improves as we learn to think, feel, and believe in God’s way of life. Maturing in this way, we become people who express more of the godly values that God searches for in our lives. We elaborate on these values and their wonderful benefits in the blog How Do We Experience the Fruits of the Spirit?

Our heart is seen in the expressions that emanate from us, revealing the maturity of our developing self.

a) 1 Samuel 16:7; b) Genesis 2:7; c) Genesis 1:28; Acts 17:22-29; d) Hebrews 4:12; e) Jeremiah 17:10; f) 1 Samuel 16:7; g) Psalms 139:23-24; h) Matthew 15:18; i) Ephesians 4:29;

Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder
Created To Relate author



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