What is the difference between addressing a person’s heart and addressing a person’s behavior?

There are a few differences that are key when distinguishing between a person’s heart and their behavior. When addressing the behavior, we tend to be rather narrow, not really caring about underlying beliefs and motives and such. It is imperative that we look at and address a person’s attitudes, motives, emotions, and beliefs. These things are pretty important in regards to addressing the heart, but, I must caution that of course we do not know people’s hearts the way God does, and we should not pretend to. It is true that you can  judge a book by its cover, nonetheless, we must still be careful about doing so. “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)

“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”  (Proverbs 20:11). These are very important concepts that we find in Scripture, and for some reason people really don’t like it. People love to say things like, “Don’t judge me, you don’t know my heart.” Well, this is true really, God knows your heart, we do not have the kind of knowledge he has; however, there is a inextricable connection between one’s heart and one’s behavior. Our Lord said that the words of our mouths are the overflow of our hearts.  However,  I believe an important distinction is when addressing things would be that when you address only the external behavior, you don’t really care or love the person. What you really care about is that you are inconvenienced, or sinned against, or embarrassed or something along them lines. You tell the person to do this, or not do that, but you never explain why, never try to correct wrong thinking, so on and so forth. If you’re not willing to get on your knees and labor hard there, then more than likely you only care about the external inconvenience, as opposed to truly loving and attempting to change the heart. I may be wrong on these things, please feel free to provide input and thoughts. They are my reflections on the subject thus far, and I have been known to change them.


About Daniel Mason

I write from the historic protestant worldview, that is, Reformed. I hope you will be both blessed and challenged by my writings. View all posts by Daniel Mason

5 responses to “What is the difference between addressing a person’s heart and addressing a person’s behavior?

  • What is the difference between addressing a person’s heart and addressing a person’s behavior? | CHoRoTes

    […] What is the difference between addressing a person’s heart and addressing a person’s behavior?. […]

    • masondan

      To be honest, I think that this is a rather in depth sort of thing, that we all should endeavor to explore more thoroughly. But if I may offer a little bit from what I understand, there are 2 main differences. 1: When you are focusing on behavior, you don’t really care if God is pleased or not, you just want yourself to be happy, and the behavior of your child, for example, is not making you happy. So motive.

      Number 2: How you go about it; when focusing on the person’s heart you are going to focus on things like mentality, and perceptions. Recall that Scripture says we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” Romans 12:2. So this means that even if the behavior ‘seems’ to be ok, but we know that in fact someone still struggles with this idea or that mentality etc. we are still going to try to change things; but all for the glory of God…going back to number 1. I hope this helps, God bless!

  • myatheistlife

    Why then, is it, that so many believers show such hatred for non-believers? When was the last time you told people to get to know an atheist?

    • masondan

      I apologize for taking so long to reply. With regards to the hatred and animosity for non-believers, there are two simple things to be said about that. One, first and foremost, most people who claim to be Christian are not, sadly enough. And secondly, we are all fallen and sinful, no one does good, no not one. Even Christians struggle with bitterness and fear and hatred. As far as your question about telling someone to get to know an atheist, I in fact have….if that puts your mind at ease. If there are any other questions brother, let me know.

      • myatheistlife

        I have a lot of questions. They are not necessarily best asked or answered here. There is one that interests me though. You mentioned knowing something about what it means to be or not be a Christian and knowing that the claims of some to be Christian are not true. If you feel so inclined perhaps you will explain how to know what a ‘true Christian’ is?

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