I have watched a commercial that promotes a new device intended to help us in our quest for good health. I’m not sure if the device works but since it has appeared in the media, which like the internet is without error, it caught my attention.
The manufacturer claims that by simply putting a finger from each hand on a small pad, it can produce a “medical quality” EKG that is sent to your smart phone. This wonderful device then allows you to check your heart anytime and as many times a day as you want.
I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but this product may be a real source of anxiety for the hypochondriacs who live among us. Conversely, it may give cover to other people who are in denial about their need to see a physician.
I am somewhat familiar with the magnificent, fist-sized muscle that labors away a little to the left of our sternum. In no way would I ever want to underestimate the significance of this amazing organ. That being said, I am reminded of the other common use of the term “heart” as it relates to defining who we are as individuals — our real selves. While we may have the ability to electronically monitor our physical heart, the task of evaluating our other heart is far more complicated and just as important.
There is a proverb that speaks to the importance of the heart that says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23 NIV). The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah spoke often of the human heart; we can find more than 30 verses where he discusses it. One verse in particular is relevant to our ability to really self evaluate our heart. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).
Our heart then, according to the man sometimes referred to as the “weeping prophet,” has the ability to take us to a point of self-deception about all sorts of things. Jesus had a great deal to say about this heart translated from the Greek word kardia, which always refers to our figurative heart. I think it is significant that the first time the word is mentioned in the New Testament, it was by Jesus, who said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8 NIV).
Jesus wasn’t being judgmental or negative; He was simply making a statement of fact based on what He understood about the character of the Father. Jesus described some diagnostic measures in regard to the heart, including, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34 NIV). He also said, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). In other words, what’s in our heart ends up coming out of our mouth. Such is an altogether humbling thought.
I think it is safe to say we are aware, and at times even concerned, about our physical heart. But I wonder how often we think about the condition of the other one? When we consider the most significant message of the Christmas season, it’s that Jesus came to do for us what we could never do for ourselves — to give us a new heart.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.