No one is exactly sure when or why the “heart” shape we see so often, especially this time of year, came to represent love. But one of the earliest depictions is found in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. The famed painter Giotto painted a series of frescoes in the chapel; one shows a female figure offering her “heart” to Jesus.
Symbolism changes from generation to generation and culture to culture. (We would consider heart shapes from that time period “upside down,” for instance.) But the human condition remains the same. We seek companionship, comfort and nurture, and we will do practically anything to find them — even to the point of taking our very heart out of our chest and giving it away.
But does that really describe our relationship with Jesus? Do we give Him our heart? Or is it more like one of our kidneys, which we can spare? Or our appendix, which serves little observable function? Or our wisdom teeth, which we might be better off without anyway?
To give your heart is to give your life. Nothing else of consequence remains. But to the one who truly loves Jesus, nothing outside of Jesus is valuable anyway. That is why Jesus requires us to “hate” it all, up to and including life itself (Luke 14:26). The things we value in this life are by their nature in competition with Him. And this “bridegroom” has done too much for His bride to be willing to share (Ephesians 5:25-27).