A Part of Our Hearts

July 10, 2024

By Steve Hearts

It’s one thing to know a lot about something, but it’s another thing to make it an integral part of who you are, so that something that you believe in becomes a part of your heart and actions.

When I was young, I felt proud of my ability to quickly and easily memorize Bible passages. I regularly used that knowledge to bolster my case when debating something. I’d spout off verse after verse, in an effort to prove how “spiritual” I was. While I did manage to impress some people, God truly knew my heart.

As I grew older, life’s difficulties increased. I complained about them and buckled under their weight instead of finding strength in God’s Word. It took a considerable amount of time for the Lord to get through to me that His Word is not only meant to be studied and memorized, but also lived and applied. More than simply making its way into our ears and heads, it’s meant to penetrate the depth of our being and become part of our hearts.

For instance, I could flawlessly quote James 1:2–3: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” But instead of being thankful when in the midst of troubles and difficulties, my attitude was the exact opposite. The drastic change God asked me to make to live according to this verse was no easy pill to swallow. But with His help, I began to make the switch from a negative, grumbling attitude to one of gratitude and praise, and I can testify how this made all the difference in my life.

The Lord used the following situation to drive home this point about living and applying His Word:

As a blind musician who plays several instruments by ear, I know nothing about written music—not even in Braille. I also know very little when it comes to musical terminology. Once, when I was lamenting about this to my older brother, he said, “But you also have a great advantage over those who are unable to play without reading written music. The music itself is in your head and your heart, whether you can read the notes or not.”

The Lord showed me that I needed to live and apply His Word in the same practical way that I live and apply my knowledge of music. I realized that it’s possible to spend many hours reading, studying, and learning about any given subject. But if what is learned is not used, applied, and lived, then all that learning can be in vain.

My family and I are friends with a psychologist. For years, she would dismiss all our comments and suggestions about Jesus and salvation. But when a horrible event occurred, when her sister and brother-in-law were tragically murdered, all the knowledge she thought would keep her strong shattered into pieces. She turned to Jesus for His help and asked Him to come into her heart.

One day she told us, “I studied for years to be a psychologist, and I am able to speak extensively on many subjects, but none of that knowledge is helping me in the least right now. What is helping me now is the comfort I am receiving from coming to better understand Jesus’ great love for me and His Word!”

This reminds me of another story of a young professor of psychology who was an expert on human emotions, reactions, and was well loved by all his students.

One afternoon, he received a letter from his brother informing him that his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in five years, was ill. She wasn’t likely to live much longer and was longing to see him. The professor decided to take a trip to see her for Mother’s Day the next weekend.

A few days before his trip, the professor’s landlady asked him what he was planning to take home. The professor had no idea, so he asked his landlady to choose something for him to bring. The next day, the mailman arrived at the door with a beautiful bouquet of roses.

He then started to make excuses: “My mother doesn’t care much for sentimentality. Besides, how am I to carry roses on the train? What will people think?” His landlady was undeterred, though, and insisted that he take the roses.

Throughout the entire train ride, the professor was uncomfortable, thinking that someone who knew him would see him with the roses. Whenever he saw a familiar figure heading his way, he would quickly hide them behind his newspaper.

When he presented his mother with the roses, she tried to dismiss them, telling her son he should save his money for the future instead of buying her presents. Having expected this reaction, he felt justified.

The following day, the professor was on a walk and ran into an old friend of the family. “I just came from your mother’s house,” she said exuberantly. “All she could talk about was the roses you brought her.” The professor couldn’t believe this until he reached home and heard his brother and sister-in-law say the same thing.

The next day was Mother’s Day. His elderly mother didn’t come downstairs for breakfast. The professor checked on her and found that she had peacefully passed away in her sleep, tightly clutching the roses he had brought her.

It then dawned on the professor that it may have been him who didn’t care for sentimentality and that perhaps his mom was reacting that way for his sake. He’d thought he knew and understood so much about human emotions, but this bittersweet experience showed him that knowing information and putting what you teach into practice from your heart are two different things.

It has become a habit for me to pray the following prayer before diving into God’s Word: “Lord, cause Your Word to become a part of my heart and life instead of just mere knowledge.”

This article was adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.

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