In 1995 I was discipled by a brother in Christ who has become a dear friend. Jeff was the first one to show me how to study the Scriptures. A month ago I was praying with him at Holy Cross Hospital as he prepared to undergo a heart procedure to identify what had caused his heart attack. The cardiologist found that one of his arteries was 95% blocked and inserted a stint. Jeff has come through very well and is on the road to full strength.
Jeff has always kept his body and heart in good condition. He is a contractor and has been physically active throughout his entire life. We’ve played softball together for nearly two decades. Walking through this trial with him has reminded me that no matter how well we steward the health of our hearts physically, eventually our hearts will beat their last on this side of the grave. Jeff taught me early on in my walk with Christ: “Physical training has some value, but godliness has value for all things, for both this life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. (Hebrews 13:9)
Here is God’s prescription for true heart health: to be strengthened by grace. The more our hearts are strengthened by God’s grace, the more they beat for God’s glory. As I have said here before, what rules your heart shapes your life. A heart ruled by grace is a cross-shaped life, living vertically for God and horizontally for others—all others. Hearts strengthened by grace will . . .
- Serve sacrificially
- Repent rejoicingly
- Forgive faithfully
- Love lavishly
- Give generously
- Pray passionately
- Comfort consistently
- Encourage everyone
By all means, take the time to be a good steward of the health of your heart. Eat the right foods, exercise regularly, and get adequate rest. But never let the physical training of your body crowd out the spiritual training of your heart! For your heart to be strengthened by grace you must spend time with the God of grace. There is simply no substitute for the kind of heart health that truly matters . . . on both sides of the grave. It is, indeed, good—very good—for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!