totally healthy … really healthy
This week, we begin a new series. It’s a new year, and maybe you’ve already set some goals. Maybe one of those is to get healthy. Maybe the stress in your life is robbing you of good health. Maybe it’s physical weight. Maybe it’s gluttony of another sort, or finances, or anger, or any number of other things. What we’re going to spend the next four weeks talking about is all of those things and none of those things. What we’re going to be focusing on is getting totally healthy … really healthy. Stress, gluttony, bitterness, deceit, gossip … no matter which of those things or any others that ail you, you need a total rehab.
the four are one
Over the next four weeks, we’ll be talking about the four “parts” of you that are all unique in their own way, but are also knit together as your whole being. Your heart, soul, mind and body … these are the targets of total health. Jesus names them as he answers a teacher of the law and a question that was intended to test Him:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
When Jesus tells us to love, we are do it engaging every part of our whole being. Jesus teaches us that we are complex beings, with unique parts which are all connected. His answer illustrates complete love … and total health.
In answering the teacher, Jesus begins with the heart. And the native word He used is “kardia.” Kardia simply means the fountain and seat of thoughts, passions, desires and appetites. There is nothing more central to who you are than your kardia. That is you. It is the seat of everything. There is nothing more important. If your kardia is in something, then you will do it with everything you have. And if it is not, then you will just simply be going through the motions.
what goes in
So, how do we get healthy there — in the seat of everything we are? I would suggest that it’s actually simpler than you might think. How do you get healthy in your heart — your kardia? That sounds so daunting. How do you love God from the center of who you are? So, here’s where we start:
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
These are the words of Jesus, and they cut to the heart of the shocking simplicity with which you can answer that “daunting” question. The answer to loving God from the seat and fountain of your thoughts, passions, desires and appetites is all in what you store up in your heart. It’s what you feed it. It’s what enters your eyes, your mind and your mouth. Jesus says a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. Let’s stop making it any more complicated than that. Watch the video for the funnel and tube illustration that Grant uses to visualize this truth. What pours into the funnel end comes out of the opposite end of the tube. It’s really that simple. If what you choose to feed your eyes (and you do choose) is garbage, then garbage is what will seep and spew out of you. If you begin to pour clean water (living water) in, it will begin the process of flushing out the murk and filth and will eventually displace it and begin to pour out clean.
As you watch the illustration, pay attention to one other small, but monumental thing. Pay attention to who is lifting the bucket and pouring into the funnel end. Who owns and controls the seat of your being? Is it you who is picking up the bucket, or is it God? Was that your default reaction to the challenge of feeding your kardia … to pull up your bootstraps and do it yourself? The truth is that the feeding and feeder are inseparable. You cannot pour good into your funnel on your own. You can do nothing good — bear no good fruit — apart from God (John 15:5). You must submit completely and allow God to occupy the seat of your whole being — to sit on the throne of your heart.
So what are some practical steps of how to do this? What can I begin doing today?
- “unsubscribe” – You need to begin filtering the things that come into your “feed” on a minute-by-minute and day-by-day basis. In your online life, this is accomplished by “unsubscribing.” It’s not an unfriending, but it’s an essential activity to turn off the wrong kind of noise — noise (TV, music, online content from friends or a myriad of other sources) in your life that needs to be muted. They are the evils listed in the passage in Mark above that are fed into and then come out of us. You need to get serious about the wisdom of Proverbs 4:23 … Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
- feed your heart … feed it! – Silencing the bad is not enough. You need to consume good. David says in Psalm 119:11, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Consume good. Read your Bible. And don’t just read it, commit it to memory. Hide it. Let it take up residence in your heart and then call on it when the temptations come … and they will come. David also writes, I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8) and The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. (Psalm 37:30-31)
God wants to totally transform you from the inside out. He desperately wants to own the seat of your kardia. He wants to cleanse and then stir the thoughts, passions, desires and appetites that flow from that fountain at the very center of who you are. What say you? Will you let Him? Only then will total rehab, and total health, come to your kardia (your heart).