The heart comes before the head

heart_head_ometerWhile it’s popular to say we need to get truth from our head to our heart, it’s pretty easy to prove that the opposite is actually true.

I contend that so much of what we struggle with in our faith is because we’re doing things backwards. The truth is, we believe with the heart long before we believe with our mind. It’s just how we’re designed. 

We’re created as relational beings made in the image of God, and God is love, and love is not only relational but about the heart. This is why the most popular books and songs are more about love and “heart” issues than about factual matters. We enjoy things that stir our passion more than what stimulates our brain. We’re most alive when we’re living with passion.

Think about this for a minute. If you were on your deathbed, would you wish you had spent more time at work or with those you love?

Sonshift_Cover_FlatFaith is also a heart matter. I mentioned this in my book, Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace:

“Believing is a heart issue. Our heart is the very core of who we are. Our head can only agree with what our heart already believes. Faith does not come from the head but from the heart. Here’s what Paul said:

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. 10:10)

Do we see the correlation here? We believe with our heart and confess what we already believe in our heart with our mouth (head). It’s not that we shouldn’t study or think deeply about God; it’s that it’s from the heart that one believes. This is why stories and songs are remembered more than facts, even if the songs and stories are outright lies. When they touch our heart, we tend to believe them more deeply.” (Sonshift, Kindle Edition, loc. 1800)

Sales and marketing companies know that we buy with our emotions and justify with logic, which is why so much of our “stuff” ends up in garage sales.

And this gets the “heart” of the matter. As I already mentioned, we only think we need to get truth from our head to our heart because we’ve been learning things backwards. We never move beyond our own thoughts because we have well-exercised heads and anemic hearts.

ChildlikeJesus said we must receive the Kingdom like a little child. I think this is instructive.

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt.18:3-4 NKJV)

What is it about little children that makes them so special to God? Is it because they have a handle on systematic theology and possess pristine doctrine? Of course not. Could it be they’re considered the “greatest in the kingdom” because their hearts are much bigger than their heads and they intuitively love unconditionally and live openly?

As Eugene Peterson put it in his Message Bible, it’s what’s between our ears that keeps us “living in a small way” (see 2 Cor.6:11-13).

Again, I’m not saying that we don’t need our head. We’re to love God with all our mind, too. The renewed mind provides the hermeneutical framework for what we’re experiencing and protects us against danger and deception. Yet, while it’s a great servant, it’s a terrible master.

We must follow the Spirit through our heart like a little child and let the mind do what it does best…crunch numbers and analyze information.

I submit to you that the reason there’s such a disconnect between what Christians say they believe and how they live might be because we’ve been discipling them all wrong. As leaders, we spend much more time stuffing their heads full of Bible information than teaching them how to open their hearts to God. This is why I advocate having the Bible study you. Revelation and transformation comes through the willing heart rather than the educated mind (see John 7:14-17).

brooklyn_museum_-_woe_unto_you_scribes_and_pharisees_malheur_a_vous_scribes_et_pharisiens_-_james_tissotThe Pharisees were “head first” people and they crucified their Messiah. Getting rid of the blasphemers and protecting their interpretation of theology was more important than actually being in relationship with God and loving people. The following is probably one of the most tragic things Jesus ever said to them:

39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 NKJV)

Think about it. The Pharisees loved Scripture but not the Word of God (John 1:1-14). They would not come to Him and receive life. Life is not found in the Bible text; life is found in Jesus.

If our heart is not being regularly tenderized and nurtured by God’s love, it will become hardened and unable to receive His continual life-flow.

So I propose we change the way we learn…instead of filling our heads with facts first, that we learn how to open our hearts to God, and in so doing, allow Him to change us from the inside-out (heart to head).

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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11 Responses to The heart comes before the head

  1. You make some good scriptural points. I find it interesting, on the other hand, that Jeremiah states that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. If the heart isn’t changed by the Holy Spirit, all of these who follow their heart are on a dangerous path. I would love to dialog or, at least, hear your thoughts on how these two ideas are related.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Matthew, I’m glad you brought up Jeremiah. It’s important we understand this about the heart. Three quick points in response:

      1) It’s true what Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 17:9-10, but later through Jeremiah, God also promised with the New Covenant to give us a new heart (Jer.31:31-34). He put His Spirit in us to know Him and put the law in our hearts. Ezekiel said He will turn our stony hearts into hearts of flesh (Ezek.36:25-27).

      2) Even the lost believe to salvation through the heart (Rom.10:10). God reaches their heart first, their mind afterward. Paul said they who without the law have the law within themselves, their conscience either condemning or justifying them (Rom.2:14-16). Our “conscience” is a heart issue.

      3) It is through the heart that we are truly changed. It’s in this place of direct intimacy with God, bypassing our rationale, where we allow God to examine our motives and intents (Heb.4:12). Our mind wants to defend what our heart knows needs to change. It’s here where we learn to trust Him to examine our innermost being (Psalm 139:23-24).

      Finally, as I said, we need our mind to keep the “guardrails” (doctrine, theology) on our heart. That’s what I was talking about in my series, “Letting the Bible study you.” So, I’m not arguing against the mind. It’s important. I’m arguing for relating to God from the heart to the mind. It’s a much better way to grow and become like Christ.

  2. You are right. I often say (and you said it), that it made it from my head to my heart. Had I turned it around I probably would not have gone through so many struggles.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You and me both! I’ve found that being in my head makes me critical, skeptical, angry, judgmental…but when my heart is leading, grace, trust, compassion and understanding win the day. I’m still learning how to go from the heart to the head but it’s better!

  3. Great piece! I utilized your words and responses as a bible study. My heart thanks you.

  4. Pingback: God so loved – Part three | In My Father's House

  5. Megan Urlaub says:

    Thank you. I enjoy your posts ! 😊

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