“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” –Matthew 13: 15
“He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147: 3
“Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” -Matthew 22:35-40
Central to the foundation for our counseling is understanding the heart from a Biblical perspective. Hebrew and Greek references to the heart are scattered throughout the Bible.
When words for “heart” are used in Scripture, they refer variously to: the hidden emotional springs of our personal life, the place of God’s influence (Old Testament) or dwelling (New Testament), the concealed root of true character, the hidden yet real person, and the center of our being where human depravity (the sin nature) is found.
Heart reasoning and language can be contrasted with an intellectual approach to knowledge and understanding. Western cultures have been dominated until recently by rational, scientific, linear thinking, which has produced technological advances and supports mental superiority. Eastern cultures, on the other hand, traditionally are more intuitive and mystical in their approach to reality. Different streams in the historical Christian church have espoused either the rational (e.g. Calvin, Knox) or the mystical (e.g. Augustine, Jeanne Guyon). (More examples from Christian history can be found in The Great Cloud of Witnesses article).
Heart imagery is symbolic, archetypal, emotional, and mysterious, appearing sometimes nonsensical. It may be expressed in dreams and visions, through music and works of art that are deeply moving yet difficult to explain, except in figurative or indirect descriptive terms. With the heart. we perceive complex layers of meaning in a story, or accept and embrace the mysteries of God. Heart language is richly textured and poetic, celebrating paradox and the indefinable.
From our hearts come shame and trust, yearning, grief and anguish, or rejoicing. The core person, created by God for His purpose and plan from the foundation of the world, can be found in the heart. When as children we experience disappointment and loss, we tend to “bury our pain” deep in the heart. That buried pain causes heart fragmentation.
Intellectual discipline still dominates evangelical American church teaching. Because of this, the heart often stays largely separated–from God, others, even our own conscious awareness. In a sense, though we may have mentally accepted Christ, hidden parts of our hearts can remain untouched.