Heart is First
Almost every time you see heart and mind in the biblical text, they are in that order. Heart is first. So we are to use them in that order. But we have focused so much on the classroom version of engaging our minds in the written biblical text that we may have missed the fact that our Father starts with the heart. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Heart is first. Second is not leaning on our own understanding, followed by acknowledging Him—relational. Heart and mind are together, in that order, and not separated. After spending so many years in rational thoughts about our Father, many of us know things about Him, while not knowing Him from our heart. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). It was true for Israel, and it true for us.
I have missed His heart much of the time in the past. When I am away from home, I try to call or FaceTime with my wife Karen. It is great to hear her voice and see her face. But as I go to sleep it is not the same as having her next to me. It is like having a picture of her on her pillow. Not the same. We treat God similarly when we approach Him with our minds and church processes only, but no depth of heart relationship.
When we miss the most important part, the heart, it’s not just sad, it is ineffective. Romans 10:9-10 conveys that we believe with our heart and our mind. But do we? Do we believe Him with our hearts? “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” The two passages before this one list mind first, then heart. Yet, it is in our heart that we believe. One of the biggest problems I think we westerners have is this: It is easier to measure mind, process, programs, events, and attendance. It is very hard to measure the heart. It is tough to measure someone becoming more kind. But you know it when you see growth in kindness, in love, in joy, in peace (Galatians 5:22).
We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind—the Great Commandment. In every passage Jesus says this, heart is first and mind is third. Do not assume I am suggesting ditching your mind. I’m not. You must connect your mind to what He has said. But if you do not engage your heart, you have disobeyed the Great Commandment. Without the heart, we can become process-only. We can descend to the point of being Pharisees. And with only the heart and not a connected mind, we could be cast adrift and follow any emotionally charged statements we hear. That would cause us to have no “heart-truth” to judge them against. In Ephesians 4:13-14 God says, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” Our deep knowledge of God (not just mind knowledge) will keep us from being wishy-washy believers.
Don’t disconnect your mind, but engage your heart. A car with an engine and no transmission is worthless. And vice versa.