Healthy heart, happy life
June 27, 2021
In 2019, companies spent $240 billion on advertising in the United States. The figure is unsurprising because it seems everywhere we turn someone is trying to sell us something. The picture of the attractive smiling couple on a sandy beach tells us we need a vacation that we weren’t even missing; the make-up ad sends the unmistakable message that we desperately need to do something about our looks; the whitening toothpaste says our smiles are not bright enough to be seen and so on. By the time we turn aside, the commercials have sown seeds of discontent within and we’re left with the distinct impression that our lives would be a lot better, indeed happier, if we only did X or had Y.
The Bible, however, reverses the order. It sees our hearts as the place where happiness begins and teaches that it is only when that inner life of the heart is healthy that we can enjoy the external perks of living.
In the lengthy discourse of Matthew 6, Jesus tells his followers not to chase after all the things a materialistic society seeks because those things would never satisfy them. He suggested instead that they seek first “the kingdom of God”— defined by the Apostle Paul as “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17)—and God would make sure they got the material things they needed (Matt. 6:33).
In other words, for Christians, nurturing the inner spiritual life by pursuing God is the priority. That life then becomes the filter through which we properly appreciate and experience everything else, and it enables us to maintain a positive attitude towards life no matter our external circumstances (Phil. 4: 11-13).
But when our hearts are misguided and restless or unhealthy for whatever reason (e.g. because of unresolved pain, fear, anger, distrust, envy, worldliness, and a dozen other soul poisons) even a life filled with everything this world offers will be as enjoyable as a tall glass of warm water on a blazing hot day. We become like the grumpy man who laughed at the dog that walked on water because all he could see was a dog that could not swim.
Our level of happiness would increase considerably if we brought our hearts before God and asked him to examine them, heal us and realign our priorities. With healed hearts we can dance with joy not just when we are on that fabulous exotic vacation, but also in our battered basement with only God for company.