“that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ”
We continue the study of the first of four lines of defense against attack upon the Christian faith. The first line of defense is to orient to the Word of God.
“that their hearts may be encouraged”
This phrase can mislead us if we read it with the understanding of people in the twentieth century. Most of us interpret “heart” to mean emotions and “encouraged” to mean emotional support. Neither of these meanings convey the idea of the first century.
The stabilizing principle during times of attack upon our faith is that our “hearts may be encouraged.” The word “heart” does not refer simply to our emotions. It has nothing to do with the idea behind Valentines Day; it does not mean romantic and sentimental. We often hear the expression “He means well; his heart is in the right place.” In other words, he bumbles through life but he means well. He is sincere but wrong. The word “heart” is never used in this sense in the Bible.
When the Bible uses the word “heart” it refers to the entire person. The heart is the mind, emotion, will, spirit, memories, attitudes — the complete person. When tragedy comes to our lives generally the first thing we do is stop thinking and begin to operate emotionally. We throw tantrums and become hysterical. Hysteria means we stop using the thinking part of the heart.
The Christian life involves the complete person — mind, emotion and will.
A strong attitude or orientation is the result of strengthening the complete person. The Christian must draw upon the resources for the complete person to live the Christian life. Attitude sins devastate relationships. They make us judge other people. We enter antagonisms because of these attitudes. Attitude sins cause instability. Instability makes us operate as a psychotic person who does not know he is psychotic.
The Word of God establishes our “hearts” by orienting us to God’s way of thinking for the complete person.