Every part of the body is crucial for survival, but if you had to rank the importance of each organ, it seems the brain and the heart would be at the top. When we discuss our spiritual make up, the mind and heart seem to top the list of importance as well.
But what does the Bible say about the heart and mind? What’s the difference between the two? And what is the relationship between the mind and heart?
What’s the Difference Between the Heart and Mind?
The heart and mind are mentioned thousands of times throughout the Bible. If we were to go through the many different passages mentioning the heart and mind, we could come up with many different definitions for the heart and mind depending on how each word is used in biblical context.
In general, however, the heart refers to the part of a human that controls the desires, emotions, hopes, dreams, and other intangible parts of our being. The mind typically refers to the part of a human that controls the intellect, reason, and thoughts.
The Heart and Mind Are Both Needed for Biblical Faith
We are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). The mind and heart must both be engaged in this process because to have faith in God, we must believe and trust God. Believing requires the mind, but to trust someone requires the heart.
We are saved through believing certain facts about God. God sent his son into the world, Jesus died on the cross for our sins, God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, Jesus ascended into heaven, and God send his Spirit to dwell in people who become Christians. These are some of the most important facts we must believe to be a Christians.
But if our faith ends with the beliefs of the mind, this is not saving faith. James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” In other words, Satan believes the truth about God in his mind, but he does not live for God, he does not trust God. James 2 goes onto explain that faith without deeds is dead. This means that if we just believe certain facts, our faith is not genuine. Genuine faith affects the way we live. Our life will only be lived for God if we trust him.
To have saving faith, it requires belief and trust, which require the mind and the heart. Therefore the mind and heart must both be changed through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Ezekiel 36:26-27). Those who truly know God will love God with all of their heart and mind (Matthew 22:37).
The Heart and Mind Work Together in Our Relationship With God
To have an intimate relationship with God, you will have to engage your heart. To have a true relationship with God, you will have to engage your mind. You can passionately worship a false version of God, and you can lifelessly believe in a doctrinally accurate picture of God. God desires us to love him passionately and truly.
The more we passionately love God as a person, the more we will desire to know the truth about him. And the more truth we learn about him from studying the Bible, the more we will passionately love him. The way we feel affects the way we think, and the way we think affects the way we feel. Philippians 4:4-7 says:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is a passage about our relationship with God. We must rejoice (an emotion of the heart) because God is near (an intellectual fact). We must be reasonable (mind). We must not be anxious (heart). We must pray about specific things in specific ways (which will require the mind). And when we do this, a peace that surpasses understanding will rest on us (which will be a feeling in the heart). Overall, when we have a relationship with God, the Bible says Christ Jesus will affect our heart and mind. Psalm 119:169-176 reads:
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
170 Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
171 My lips will pour forth praise,
for you teach me your statutes.
172 My tongue will sing of your word,
for all your commandments are right.
173 Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live and praise you,
and let your rules help me.”
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.
These Bible verses speak about engaging the mind and the heart. We must “cry,” “understand,” “pour forth praise,” “[learn] your statues,” and “sing of your word.” The phrases swing back and forth between intellect and passion, understanding and desire, rules and help. The psalmist’s passion (heart) is rooted in biblical knowledge (mind), “My lips will pour forth praise (heart), for you teach me your statues (mind).”
Summary: What Is the Relationship Between the Heart and Mind According to the Bible?
So what does the Bible say about the heart and mind? What’s the difference between the two? And what is the relationship between the mind and heart?
As we can see, the heart and mind control different parts of our human existence, but they are intimately connected. Both are needed in advancing our relationship with God and our love for him.