The Heart Regulates the Hands

Today, as we look back over the year, I want to share a previous blog post as a reminder not to be discouraged by what did not happen this year.  But instead, look at what your heart is telling you and consolidate that. It is easy to be critical of ourselves, but it is better to get our hearts right first.

That statement “the heart regulates the hands,” implies that all action starts with what the heart decides. I cannot say that it is true to my life, there is much in my heart that does not flow out into my hands.  Still the phrase bugged me—it comes from 2 Cor 8:12 (MSG):

“The best thing you can do right now is finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along.  You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t.  The heart regulates the hands.”

My life can be a grind.  Everyday there is more to do and more expected to be done.  Somehow I feel I am drowning under the march of time, the pressure to finish, the never ending “To-do” list that grows without you adding to it.   And there is always the good stuff I “don’t get round to” or “wish I had done.”

But the ‘heart regulating the hands’ implies that it is the things we commit to in our hearts, that determine the actions that flow out of our hands.

So if we “never get round to it”, the question is: Was it in our hearts to start off with?  The real place to start is not the ‘to-do list’ but our heart commitments and beliefs that our actions are based on.  My gran always said, “You do what is most important to you.”

But my truth is: “good intentions grow stale,” and sometimes a year down the line, we find that we have made no progress, but our “heart is still in the right place” and the “desires are still real”.  The heart commitment is there, but still we have no progress.

2 Cor 8:12 says that once your heart is clear and you have committed to a path of action, we are to “do what we can, not what we can’t.”

Power flows into our lives when we commit to something.  Commit, work with what you got, do what you can, make a start and then the energy will flow from there.

heartspeaksBut still, perhaps you are like me, who a year down the line is looking back over the year and those good intentions I had which did not come about, even if my heart is in the right place.

In Matt 26:36-45 , the disciples had failed to stay awake, while Jesus was praying in the garden.  Can you imagine the despair that they must have felt at that moment?  Here Jesus had asked them to keep watch with Him, they had been given an opportunity to serve Him and support Him, and that opportunity that was now lost, gone and there is nothing they could do to alter their performance in that moment.  Can you feel the disappointment in themselves? They have failed to do that which their hearts longed to do.  Their hearts were in the right place, they had good intentions, but somehow they just were not able to get “to it”.

But I love what Jesus does in that moment, He basically says to them: “Arise and do the next thing.”

Jesus does not allow them to dwell on their failure, their lost time, the lost opportunity, to dwell on that which they did not do.  He does not condemn them, He names where they are right now and then tells them to get up, go forth and do the next thing.  It comes back to the “do what you can and not what you can’t.”

So now at year end, this is what I understand,

  • Never let the sense of past failure, what you did not do, corrupt your new action.
  • The heart regulates the hands—get your heart right, commit to it in your heart.
  • Work with what He has put in your hand right now, “do what you can” commit and start the momentum.
  • Start with a small action and the power of the Spirit will build the momentum, He will give you the energy, clarity and wisdom to do it.

There is always a new day, a new start and new beginning.  Let the heart regulate the hand.


By |2017-08-08T14:28:02+00:00December 30th, 2013|

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  1. chantal holt January 31, 2014 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Michelle, I am catching up on my blog reading. You have no idea how this one has struck me. Thank you.

  2. Elaine Bonney December 31, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

    This is exactly what I need to read today. It puts everything into perspective.

  3. Betty Badibanga January 6, 2013 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this bitter sweet word, it couldn’t have been more sobering. Deciding to have a good and honest look at my so-called good intentions and realising that my heart isn’t always motiviated by pure and noble intentions is so disappointing but also uplifting because it enables me to cry out “I need you more God and change my heart oh God!” By the way, I like the “Make it ever true” blog, these two blogs go together nicely. Thank you!

  4. Ankia December 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this empowering message, Michelle. It put a lot of what God was trying to show me into perspective. We always say that we’re seeking God’s will and that we’re interceding (in my case) accordingly. Yet, somehow, our hearts get in the way of our intentions and we end up falling back on what’s actually in our hearts. Afterwards, wondering why our prayers were not answered. Everyday I’m challenged to be more disciplined and more consistent in my actions and I finally get why it’s been so tough to accomplish. What’s in my heart has been getting in the way of what needs to be done and my hands (my actions) end up following my HEART.

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