“Protect Your Heart”–thus read the big bold headline on the most recent issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Protect Your Heart! Evidently my dear wife didn’t pay much attention to the magazine as its cover silently screamed from our coffee table. On Sunday she prepared a delicious meal of Fettuccine Alfredo. I could feel my arteries clogging as I swallowed. Not to fear! I figured I’d make up for it by cutting back on my daily cream-filled doughnut that follows my daily sausage and egg breakfast sandwich. If I grit my teeth really hard, indulging only every other day will be fine for a week or so.
Actually, there’s another kind of heart disease that should concern us way more than anything physical. Much can be said about the importance of a healthy spiritual heart. It really is a life and death issue—only here we’re talking about eternity. Because spiritual heart disease (SHD) is such a major killer, warnings abound all through the Bible, but one particular verse sums it all up very nicely:
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
But like the Protect Your Heart message silently screaming from our coffee table, Biblical warnings generally go unheeded. They just don’t seem to feed the appetite of the moment. To complicate matters even more, there are a gazillion forms of SHD, many of which are identity related.
With any healthy organ of the human body blood flows both ways. It’s the heart’s job to provide the in and out flow of blood that renews our body tissue through cleansing and oxygenation.
Spiritually speaking, love flows in two directions. The spiritually unhealthy person, while always craving (and at times demanding) love, rarely extends free love to others.
Don’t we all want to be accepted for who we are? How often do we wish that people would relax their unattainable standards and simply accept us regardless of our performance? I mean, deep inside our hearts we feel like we have something to offer, that we’re not so bad (humanly speaking), and that if others could just get beyond a few meaningless external factors, they might find themselves actually enriched by our relationship.
Without question, this is a valid cry from any person’s heart. But are you looking for one-way love? Yeah, one-way love where it’s your way or the highway! In other words, how often do you accept others for who they are regardless of perspective or appearance? How often do you relax your unattainable standards for the benefit of others? When a heart is healthy, love flows both ways.
It’s been my experience that some of the folks who preach the message of tolerance most loudly are terribly intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their perspective. Those who demand acceptance and approval are often highly judgmental of those who don’t meet their particular standards. It’s such a hypocritical double standard! SHD for sure! Are we blind to the reality that what flows out of a person’s heart is every bit as much a spiritual health issue as what flows into the heart?
Do you want to live long and see good days? Protect your heart!