What is the number one cause of death in the United States? Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Currently, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds and every 60 seconds  someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

Spiritual heart problems may be even more prevalent than physical heart problems. King Solomon in his wisdom, admonishes the reader,

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

The word “heart” occurs approximately 700 times in the Bible and it is a word rich in meaning. We often use word “heart” metaphorically to refer to the center of emotion, especially as contrasted to the head as the center of the intellect. The Bible however, has an all encompassing meaning since the heart may refer to one’s:

Mind – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Emotions – Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)

Will – Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The heart refers to the totality of one’s inner person. The care of your spiritual heart is similar to the care for your physical heart. There needs to be an accurate diagnosis and then a regimen of proper diet and exercise. We may look fine on the outside but the heart may be in need of surgery. So what’s involved in spiritual health care?

First, you need an accurate diagnosis,

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:45)

How would you evaluate the words that come out of your mouth? What would other people say about your speech? Do your words reflect kindness or do they have an edge? Your words and your actions reveal the condition of your heart.

Next, you must maintain a healthy diet. How would you evaluate your current diet? The Apostle Paul provides  guidelines for a healthy spiritual diet,

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

What are you feeding upon? A healthy diet leads to a healthy heart. Jesus reminds us that you have a responsibility to watch over your heart – for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

Finally, you need to ensure that you get sufficient exercise,

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, (2 Corinthians 4:1)

You were created on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. When you are using your God-given gifts, talents, and abilities it gives meaning and fulfillment to your life. As you minister to others you realize that what one can be, one must be. King David modeled the importance of guarding his heart,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

How are you doing at guarding your heart?

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5