Monday, March 8, 2010

Head or Heart?

I loved the old Star Trek TV show when I was growing up. Do you remember the seeming conflict in the approaches of both Spock and Kirk. Spock approached everything with cold logic. Kirk, on the other hand, approached the things with some degree of emotion and passion, and sometimes he went with his gut feelings. They worked well together.

Today, many people struggle with their circumstances in life questioning whether they should go with their head or their heart. More often than not the world says to go with the heart. Of course, the world always counsels us to do what makes us feel good at the moment. I once heard a speaker say there are some people who have a more doctrinal approach to the Bible and Christian living, while others have a more devotional approach. This sounds a little like the "head or heart" approach to life. Which should we follow?

Following the head strikes me as being "an inch wide and a mile deep." It has the depth or substance, but it is somewhat limited in its breadth. I know following the head is important because Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). "Knowing" and "truth" require the head. When Jesus spoke of the scribes and Pharisees, He said, "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Mt. 23:3a). Therefore, we must do what we know to be the right thing to do no matter how we feel about it. However, there is an inherent danger in a purely academic approach to the Bible and Christian living. Jesus went on to say about the Pharisees "but do not do after their works, for they say and do not" (Mt. 23:3b). They ignored the weightier matters of the law such as justice, mercy, and faith (Mt. 23:23). They were sticklers for the law, but their heart was not in it.

Following the heart strikes me as being "a mile wide and and inch deep." It is broad enough, but too shallow. This approach recognizes the "felt needs" of every person. It reaches out to others, it cares, and is compassionate. Such was Jesus. I know this is important because Jesus said, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Mt. 15:8 NKJV). Jesus was just as serious in condemning this as He was condemning the problem in Matthew 23 (Cf. Luke 6:46). However, there is a danger of emotionalism. Sometimes people become concerned only with how Christianity makes them feel to the neglect of doing what is right in the sight of God (Gal. 1:6-9; Rom. 6:1; 2 Tim. 4:3,4; 2 Pet. 1:16).

We must find a balanced blend of the head and the heart. This approach is "a mile wide and a mile deep." This is not an "either, or" question. It is a question of "both, and." The head and the heart are not mutually exclusive. Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind." We see that loving God requires both the head and the heart. This is also true in our worship (John 4:24). All I am saying is that the Christian must follow his head (what God's Word says) with all his heart (emotion and passion)!

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