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In my 5 year old perception, Regis and Kathy Lee were the epitome of amiability and “in the know.” During the early 90’s my mom had their show on every day, and I watched it every day. They seemed to have anyone who was anyone on their show; all that banter and coffee and white teeth. I was beguiled, I took it all in. One of the profiles I remember most was when they interviewed the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Gray. The name of the book alone had me. I did not understand the particulars of their conversation but I could grasp the fact that he was trying to tell everyone how very different men are from women. Being a sister among brothers, this was something I already knew.

Shortly after marrying my husband, my new sister-in-law handed me a stack of relationship books and the title of the book on top was Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Given my history with the book and the vote of confidence from Regis and Kathy Lee, the choice on which one to read was clear. Round two, this time I would comprehend what Mr. Gray was trying to communicate.

I did not find the read earth shattering, but two concepts were helpful. 1) the meaning of “can” and “will” within the context of asking for help mean two very different things to a man, and 2) the idea of a “love tank” in your heart and the importance of maintaining it.

Today I’d like to sort of piggy-back on Mr. Gray’s second idea here. In fact, I’d like to take this idea a step further and call it a love bank. Yes the love bank in your heart can be about the love you are giving and receiving with your spouse, but it can also be about other things in your heart and what you are giving and receiving with people other than your spouse.

What do I mean by this? If your heart can have love in its bank, it can also have hate. If it can have hate it can have bitterness. If it can have bitterness it can have sweetness. If it can have sweetness it can have humor. If it can have humor it can have grumpiness. So on and so forth.

What do all the things in this list boil down to? Positive and negative. What happens on the bank sheet at the end of the month? It tells you the positive and negative activity of deposits and withdrawals. So here’s your heart, and here’s the bank sheet of what’s going on in your heart, is it telling you a negative story or a positive one?

Let’s look at someone who has a bank sheet that has more withdrawals than deposits. They complain to their friend, “I feel so empty, I’m running on fumes lately.” The quality of their relationships are likely strained, and the quality of their work is subpar. Everything they consider or perceive is framed with “not enough” or scarcity.

This person is serving their job, or at their church, or their family on empty. The negative input everywhere through media, TV, and well-meaning but critical family and friends ends up being all this empty person receives. All that’s left in their heart bank is negativity. So this person has nothing to give but negativity in their job, church, or family life.

What about neutral, you may ask? A sort of apathy or indifference? These, when come to full fruition, are in fact negative. For example, you are invited to a wedding, it is a yes or no answer. You don’t want to say either way so you don’t answer, but in your silence there is a passive no. You’re still saying no, just indirectly. There is no neutral when it comes to the heart, only positive and negative, directly or indirectly.

I think that is why the bible teaches us to meditate on the Word of God daily and to pray without ceasing (Ps. 1:2, Ps. 119:97, Lk. 181, 1 Thess. 5:17). God knows there is always, among people, a tendency to focus on the negative and give negative input to each other. It is with this knowledge that God teaches us the vital importance to refill our heart bank with positive input. The highest quality positive input is from Him. Which means the most valuable source of positive input are His Word and praying, always in communion with Him.

Not only is this refilling your heart bank with positive important for your emotional and mental health, it is important for the health of those around you. Remember our person operating on empty? In the end, all they had to give those around them was negative. How many times do we receive negative treatment from someone that hurts us and tears us down, and we can’t believe they would treat us that way. Only to turn around and treat someone else the very same way? I’ve done it more times than I’d like to admit.

I’ve often heard speakers talk about operating out of the abundance of your heart. It’s always been a challenging message for me. You know the “glass half full, glass half empty” analogy? I’ve generally been a “glass all the way empty” sort of person. I’ve thought on more than one occasion, “How can I hope to get to full, let alone abundance and operate out of that abundance?” The answer is in the Word.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I participate in the BiOY app, which as the name implies, helps you to read the bible in one year. Last year was the first time I read the bible in one year in a long time. The exercise reminded me why the bible encourages us to meditate day and night. When we read the bible every day (whether enough to read the whole book in one year or not) we are reminded of God’s character and His promises to us, His people. As author, Pete Greig, says, “We know who we are, and whose we are.”

With that knowledge we can find hope and security in Christ. There is hope in our identity in Christ, and security in His love for us. This is how we deposit positive in our heart bank until it is full, full to abundance even.

There is always something in your heart bank, even when we feel like its empty. You are always giving out of your heart bank, whether it’s positive or negative. We need to remember how to admit this to ourselves again, and how to teach this to our children again. For the sake of our communities and our churches, and the sake of our families. We need to tend our heart banks with intentionality and refill it regularly with positive input.

Jesus sums it up rather well, “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45 NKJV) Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in the message, “The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives.” (Luke 6:43-44 Msg)

-Etta Woods

 

The Message Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Eugene H. Peterson. Navpress. P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO, 80935. 2003. Page 1878.

Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus. John Gray. Harper Collins. 1992. Ideas referenced found in Chapter 10 and Chapter 12.

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