“Why does God want my heart?” It was a simple question from a young child in Sunday School.
But it stumped me. I had to hunt for the answer.
The Greatest Commandment begins with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and it is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. But why does the Lord desire our hearts?
When Adam was made in God’s image, there were three things that His image included which made man distinct from everything else God created: a will, a mind, and emotions.
God gave Adam a mind so that Adam might know God. In Sunday school, I now explain to the children, “Does your dog know your favorite color?” They giggle. Of course not! Dogs have a brain, but they lack a mind. Even if you tell your dog your favorite color, he can’t really know you because he doesn’t have a mind.
God also gave Adam a will so that Adam might choose God. I continue my dog analogy: “Does your dog play chess?” More giggles. No one’s dog plays chess. A dog does not have a will to make choices, but man, made in God’s image, certainly does.
Finally, God gave Adam emotions so that Adam might love God. Your dog wags his tail when you give him a piece of bacon, but he doesn’t love you. He can’t. Only people, made in God’s image, have the capacity for self-sacrificing love.
All three of these evidences of God’s image are found centrally located in the “heart,” the command center within us that houses our mind, our will, and our emotions.
It’s also the heart that is the target of the enemy. If he can deceive us and corrupt the command center, he can manipulate our mind, our will, and our emotions and steer us away from the Lord who loves us and calls us to give our hearts to Him.
That’s why the Psalmist prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” and “Unite my heart to fear Your name!” He knew that the heart, the command center, rightfully belongs to the Lord who bestowed His image on us, but we have betrayed the Lord, giving control to a wicked enemy. Worse, we have often deceived ourselves into thinking we hold control over our own heart, refusing to turn it over to the One who made it.
The Lord wants our hearts to keep us safe and to help us do what we were made to do: love and worship Him.
Jesus stood up in a crowd and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now, this He said about the Spirit…”
When we surrender our hearts- mind, will, emotions- to the Lord, He makes it His dwelling, putting His Spirit there to abide and produce His fruit through us.
Why does He want your heart? Because He loves you and wants to help you love Him in return.