It’s here! It’s finally here! It could be the latest invention in medical science. It’s a diagnostic machine that will surely shake up the world. It will make X-ray machines obsolete; it is more efficient than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and clearer than computed tomography (CT) scanners. It doesn’t show anything about physical diseases infesting the human body, but its strong imaging reveals everything hidden, even in nooks and crannies.
This machine is none other than the “real imaging machine” (RIM). It shows the real you, not what you or the world thinks you are. Not what you and the church want the world to see, but your real thoughts, motives, and inner feelings. It bares the raw truth about us; paints a vivid picture of what we think beyond the words we actually say; exposes the anger we feel and suppress with a smile. It shows the lust that lingers when we pretend to be shocked by profanity or pornography; the pride that drives the humility or holiness we pretend to have; and uncovers our real attitude toward God when we testify about how all things work together for good.
“It has nothing to do with our ‘ticker,’ and everything to do with our ‘thinker.’ ”
I would be happy if this was just my imagination fueled by an illustration I found on the Internet, but truth is, the RIM already exists.
Thank heavens, God has the only one in existence, which works in our “heart,” about which someone wrote: “It has nothing to do with our ‘ticker,’ and everything to do with our ‘thinker.’ ” It’s like a network of highways taking us to different places, some of which we wish we’d never traveled. It is the seat of decision, the expression of emotions, and the true reflection of character. There are hundreds of references about it in the Bible, such as Psalm 119:10, 11.
However, before we accept the Bible and claim its promises, we should learn where that heart is, how it functions, and why it is so vital in God’s plans for our lives.
Most believers seem unable to agree about what the heart is. The world likes to say the physical heart is the seat of emotions, but the Bible uses it as a metaphor for the seat of decision. Some can’t agree about how the Word of God gets into our hearts, how it stays there, and what it does while it’s there.
The answer to such a quest for understanding is tucked away in Matthew 15:16-20. In the narrative (verses 1-15) Jesus is confronted with the hypocrisy of religious leaders who elevated their traditions over knowing and honoring God. Although modern Christians decry such attitudes, we have, in many instances, replaced or clouded some of His commandments with “merely human rules” (verse 9). The outcome is always one, or all, of the seven deadly sins.
The only way to reverse this outcome is with a pure heart (Ps. 24:4), by consistently praying for wisdom, courage, and humility, as did Solomon (1 Kings 3:9), to whom God gave an abundance of all the desires of his heart (1 Kings 4:29).
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.