Loving God with a Healthy Heart

by Mark Smith

We have a culture that is concerned about heart health. I googled “keys to a healthy heart,” and in .33 seconds, there were over 33.5 million results to my search. Common answers included the following:

  • Load up on heart-friendly foods... 
  • Get moving, exercise can... 
  • Monitor your cholesterol... 
  • Watch your weight…
  • Keep your blood pressure under control... 
  • Reduce your stress…

What do the Scriptures say about the spiritual health of our hearts? Are there some key activities or attitudes that I can take to improve my spiritual health? Where do we begin?

For answers, we can turn to King David in the Old Testament. While David had his own issues and moral failings, he was an amazing example of a spiritually healthy heart. Above all other characteristics, God called David a “man after his own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22 ESV)

Near the end of his life and reign, David is ready to hand over the car keys to his son, Solomon. God has given David the gift of perspective as he looks back at his past and forward to future generations. David’s heart is full, and he shares his praise and advice to anyone who will hear. His final words and the response of God’s people in 1 Chronicles 29 give us three important keys to a healthy heart.

First, a healthy heart celebrates God in community with others. Verse 22 says: And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. (ESV) Worship and gladness flow freely from a healthy heart. When we come together in worship and in LIFEgroups, it is amazing spiritual exercise for our hearts.

Next, a healthy heart gives freely to God. One characteristic of physical heart disease is when the heart cannot operate at full capacity. It cannot pump enough blood or supply enough oxygen to keep the rest of the body functioning properly. Verse 9 says: Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. Notice the functionality of God’s people in this verse. They had “given willingly.” They “offered freely” with a “whole heart.” While this passage gives great detail about how much was given, the emphasis is not on the quantity, but the spirit in which it was given. Healthy hearts give to God with a free and willing spirit.

Finally, a healthy heart rejoices in being a part of the bigger picture. I love verses 17-18: I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. 18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. (ESV) A healthy heart understands that it is part of something greater. It cannot function on its own. A heart struggles with poorly functioning lungs or high cholesterol in the blood. A healthy heart depends on the overall health of the body.

David understood that his contribution was a part of something bigger. His participation in God’s purposes liberated others to give and serve. They “offered freely and joyously.” David also prayed that future generations would “keep forever such purposes and thoughts,” and that they would “direct their hearts” toward Him. A healthy heart rejoices in being part of the bigger plans of God.

As we continue to ask God to “Take us to the Edge” in February, how is your heart health? As you pray today, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do I consistently celebrate God with others in community?
  • Do I give to God freely?
  • Do I see my life and contributions as part of God’s great plan?

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