The Apostle Paul gives a wonderful contrasting image in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 when he compares the writing of something with ink or on stone tablets to writing things in one’s own heart. He says that the Spirit of the living God writes upon the “fleshy tables of the heart,” inferring that there stands a record in one’s soul of one’s commitment to God, His principles and commandments.
Is this true, figuratively? Are our beliefs and commitments etched in our hearts? And if so, how do others see what is written in our hearts?
I once heard a wonderful talk by a man named Hyrum Smith, who was a co-founder of the Franklin Covey company. It was about a model that drives human behavior, and he called it “The Belief Model.” I’m going to share it with you, as I think it answers this question.
The idea is pretty simple. When you look at someone’s behavior (the end of the model) you can pretty much run it backward and tell what belief is on her belief window, and what need is driving that belief (hence the circle, or wheel, representing human needs, such as the drive to love and be loved, to live, to feel valued, and variety). How do people see what is written on our hearts? By our actions. They can see what we really believe, what we think will best meet our needs, by looking and our behavior. There is a real link between belief and behavior.
The exciting part about the model is the two end caps. If we are willing to measure the results of our behavior and evaluate whether the actions we take are meeting our needs (over time, since results take time to measure) we can find out if we have true principles on our belief window.
So, for example, one principle that is written on my heart is the belief that God is in the business of blessing me, not in cursing me. He is a “good” God. Because of this, even when I face a trial or challenge, I find myself looking for how this is meant to be a blessing, either directly or indirectly. I look for what growth I’m meant to have from the experience… and if it is particularly unpleasant, I try to learn that lesson REALLY FAST.
How did I get this belief written on my belief window? How did this belief get etched on my heart? It is through observing experiences in my life, and looking back, I see a pattern wherein all things have worked together for my overall good, and of those around my whom I love. I have looked at the results, the fruits, of this belief and find it to be a true principle.
This is the way John advises to know the truth of any doctrine or principle:
There is another way, that works together nicely with the empirical method. It is to pray to have the doctrines of God written on our hearts, to have correct principles on our belief windows (or, to have the strength and discernment to “repent” by casting aside incorrect principles, erasing them from our hearts). This works well when the results of our principles don’t seem to be meeting our needs. In other words, when the results take a lot of time to measure — maybe even a whole lifetime. Prayer gives us conviction that things will work out…eventually. 🙂
Moroni 7: 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
So what are some things you believe so deeply that it is as though they are etched upon your heart?
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or lettersof commendation from you?
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
11 And now I read unto you the remainder of the commandments of God, for I perceive that they are not written in your hearts; I perceive that ye have studied and taught iniquity the most part of your lives.
(In the last days…) 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.