Today I read this devotional by Robert Jeffress. I want to share it with you because, well, it touched my heart.
As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he.
–Proverbs 23:7 KJV
In our language and culture, when we talk about a person’s heart, we are talking about the seat of emotions. We say, “I love you with all my heart.” Or, “I feel this with all my heart.” But in the Hebrew mindset, there were two organs in the body: the heart and the bowels. The bowels represented the lower extremities of a person–the gut of a person if you will. So, to Hebrews, the seat of emotions was not the heart; it was the bowels. The bowels represented the sexual organs and deep, gut feelings. That is where a person felt things–in his bowels.
The heart, in a Hebrew mindset, was the center of thought. Most of the Bible was written by Hebrews, so when Scripture talks about the heart it is not talking about emotions; it is talking about the mind. For example, Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” In other words, the fool has said in his mind there is no such thing as God. Or Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Where does he think? In his heart–which, in our language, would be his mind. Get the picture? The bowels represent emotion, and the heart represents thought.
Our minds are important because our thoughts control our actions, and our actions control our destiny. And that is why the Bible puts a premium on our thoughts–what we call the mind, but what the Hebrews called the heart. For example, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I have heard people misapply that verse for years. I have heard people talk to teenagers about this verse and say, “You better guard your heart. Guard your affections. Do not give those affections away too freely, because that is the foundation of your life.” That is not what this verse is talking about at all. It is not talking about giving away your emotions. This proverb says to guard over your mind because your mind is the center point of everything else that happens in your life.
Proverbs 23:19 says, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart”–that is, direct your mind–“in the way.” As the mind goes, so goes the rest of a person.