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Ruler of the Heart

Keep a close watch on your hearts, friends.

Rule this heart of mine, O swift God of the elements, that you may be my love, and I may do your will!

  - Anonymous, "On the Flightiness of Thought" (Irish, 8th-9th century)

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

  - Luke 6.45

The soul consists of three components - mind, heart, and conscience. These are not physical entities; they are spiritual. But they are real, because spiritual realities are real. Such as God; and we, being made in the image of God, must necessarily be essentially spiritual beings above all else.

The mind is that aspect of the soul that manages our thoughts. The conscience stores our default values and life priorities. The heart is the seat of affections - emotions, aspirations, longings, desires, dreams, hopes.

Of these three, Solomon explained, the heart is the heart of the matter. Out of the heart flow the issues of life (Prov. 4.23). What we love, what we desire, what delights us, fills us with hope and joy - this will direct our thoughts, inform our conscience, and command our choices.

But the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, as Jeremiah reminds us (Jer. 17.9). Too often we end up loving the wrong thing, delighting in things which do not edify, hoping and longing for that which does not last. Then our minds become confused and our values get out of whack. A deceived heart can wreak havoc in our souls, so that we end up doing and saying things - out of the fullness of our decdeived heart - that do not honor the Lord.

All of which augurs for paying close attention to our hearts. The context for this is prayer, under the searching light of God's Spirit (Ps. 139.23, 24). He can show us what's in our hearts, and He can help us to determine whether or not our affections are what they ought to be.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Ps. 51.10). There is so much today which is seeking to corrupt our hearts, hijacking our affections for fleshly and merely personal interests. David's prayer should be ours every day, first thing in the day and throughout the day. Because unless our hearts are clean, we will not be able to love God or our neighbors as God intends (1 Tim. 1.5).

And if we do not love, how shall it be known that we are followers of Him Who loved us so much that He laid down His life for our sins?

Keep a close watch on your hearts, friends. Your affections will destroy you unless you bridle them by God's Word and Spirit.

T. M. Moore, Principal

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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