The Heart Is the Conduit
The soul and the spirit are inexplicably tied together by what the Bible calls the “heart.” It’s obvious that God was not referring to our physical, flesh-and-blood heart when He included this term within the pages of His word.
Throughout the Bible, writers seem to reference the heart in ways that pertain to matters of belief, behavior, conscience, moral character, courage, will, understanding, passions, intention, desire, and so on. Although we tend to assume these characteristics are all positive, they are actually value neutral. The “condition of our heart” is examined by honestly considering our answers to these probing questions:
- Who do I give the power to define my beliefs?
- In what ways are these beliefs affecting my relationship with God?
- In what ways are these beliefs affecting my relationships with others?
The Bible compares to stone the heart that is not surrendered to Jesus and describes it as “hardened” to the loving nature of God. The only One who can give us a new heart is the One who created us in the first place! We do not possess that power or capability.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT).
Our human nature is the problem within us, not the solution! It would be ludicrous to think a wooden stick could be used to sharpen another wooden stick, wouldn’t it? Likewise, our nature cannot sharpen our own nature. It requires something (actually Someone) much stronger and sharper to make us new.
While our spirit is renewed when the Holy Spirit enters into our being at the moment of salvation, our souls still carry spiritual dirt from our past – abandonment, rejection, abuse, and shame. Our souls still have stains that need to be removed and washed clean.
The Tale of the Two Seas
In his article entitled the Tale of Two Seas, author and communicator John Vaughan provides a powerful metaphor to help us contemplate the condition of our hearts.
If you pull out the maps in the back of a Bible or online, and look at the Jordan River over Israel, you will see that it sources two different bodies of water: the smaller Sea of Galilee to the north and the larger Dead Sea to the south.
If you’ve done any reading of the Bible, you recognize that much activity occurs in and around the Sea of Galilee in the life of Jesus described in the New Testament. Throughout history, towns and cities have been situated on this sea, and it has served as a center of trade. Fish and plant life are abundant in the area. In stories recorded in the gospels, Jesus and the disciples travel by boat all around the Sea of Galilee, meeting people, fishing its waters, and participating in the local culture.
Contrast that with the body of water known as the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is just that: dead. It’s a lake in which nothing swims or grows. It is extremely salty and is a harsh environment in which animals, plants, and other aquatic organisms cannot flourish. In Hebrew writings, the Dead Sea is simply called the “sea of death.” marriage counseling
Both of these bodies of water are sourced by the same fresh waters of the Jordan River. But they are opposites in their environment and impact on the life and people around them. What’s the difference? The Jordan River sources the Sea of Galilee, and the Sea of Galilee’s waters are then in turn used to source most of the population centers in Israel. Every drop of water that comes into the Sea of Galilee from the Jordan River flows back out to the people and land around. The Sea of Galilee serves as the source of much of the drinking water of the country. The Dead Sea, by contrast, is a dead end. The Jordan’s waters pour into the Dead Sea only to come to their termination point, and as the Jordan’s life-giving stream comes to a stop at the Dead Sea, it loses its vitality and sustaining qualities.
While the same waters feed both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, it’s only when the waters are used and active and moving that they retain their productive, life-giving value. The Sea of Galilee gives back out what it is receiving from the Jordan River, while the Dead Sea is just a dead end, and every drop it gets, it keeps.”
Both of these bodies of water have sufficient inflow to sustain life and share an abundance with others. One allows what flows in to freely flow out. The other exists only for itself and has become stagnant, toxic, and meaningless.
Each of us must make a choice which sea we will be: The life-giving Sea of Galilee, or the life-consuming Dead Sea. We are not the living water of the Jordan River. The love of Jesus is. We are merely a conduit (much like a siphon), holding loosely to the blessings of God and allowing them to flow from us just as freely as they have flowed to us. marriage counseling
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