David begs God in Psalm 51 for forgiveness after he sins with Bathsheba. Interestingly, he asks that God clean his heart. The heart is often used as an analogy when discussing sin and the damage it causes in our lives. The heart is a vital organ, central to our health and is associated with the very essence of life. Having a clean heart is connected with having a clean life. David knew his “heart” wasn’t right, and he wanted God to make it better.
In 2015, we still struggle with unclean hearts. Today, however, heart issues aren’t so figurative, they’re literal. The heart’s corridors are plugged up with yellow, waxy cholesterol plaque that keeps life giving blood from flowing freely to the body’s tissues. This plaque builds up over time and narrows and hardens the vessels that carry our blood. Sometimes these plaques even break free and completely block blood supply. This blockage can keep oxygen from the heart’s tissues, causing the irreversible damage of a heart attack. Heart disease wreaks havoc everywhere it goes, robbing its host of energy, mobility, happiness, and ultimately their very life. Heart disease’s victims are not able to do God’s work to the fullest extent due to the physical limitations caused by a poorly functioning heart. We, like David, need to pray for God to create in us a clean heart and we need to honor God’s gift, our body, by doing our part to keep it clean.
So how can we keep a clean and healthy heart? Choose one thing to focus on and use scripture to give you strength to make the change.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
Did you know? Every cigarette you smoke makes you more likely to get heart disease. Roughly 1 out of 5 deaths from heart disease is directly related to smoking.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Did you know? Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Eat a heart healthy diet low in red meat, dairy products, fried or packaged foods.
Did you know? A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Proverbs 25:28 ESV
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Get enough sleep.
Did you know? People who don't get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.
Psalm 127:2 ESV
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Know your numbers.
Did you know? High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood vessels. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
Proverbs 2:10 ESV
For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
What’s the BIG deal?
- About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
- Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
How will I know if I’m having a heart attack?
Major Warning signs of heart attacks include:
Chest pain or discomfort.
Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
Shortness of breath.
Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.
*Source: Mayo Clinic