Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
Millions of dollars are spent each year on programs and products to aid people in losing weight. Certainly these are necessary. Eating healthy and exercising is one way we can be good stewards of the bodies God has given us. In spending so much time and effort in guarding our bodies, I wonder how much emphasis we put on guarding our spiritual lives.
When we break down Proverbs 4:23 in the Hebrew, we get more of an understanding about thoughts of King Solomon. He seems to be saying, “Guard your inner most being, your mind, will and emotions as if they are prisoners. Guard them more fervently than you guard anything else. For out of your mind, will and emotions flows what your life consists of.” (writer’s interpretation)
When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub, Jesus replied, You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34 ESV) After the Pharisees complained to Jesus about his disciples eating with defiled hands, Jesus called the people together and told them that what comes out of man defiles him not what is outside of him (Mark 7:14-16).
Jesus later explained to his disciples, Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled? (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:18-23 ESV)
Luke also records the words of Jesus concerning the heart. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 ESV)
Solomon continued in Proverbs 4 by saying, Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. (Proverbs 4:24 ESV) And James chimed in on the problem of our tongues when he wrote, If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26 ESV)
We are defiled by what we say and by how we act because what we say and how we act comes from our heart. God searches our hearts and his word discerns the intentions of our heart (Revelation 2:23; Hebrews 4:12). So Paul exhorted us, So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV) And John gives us hope; . . . for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. (1 John 3:20-21 ESV)
Are you guarding your heart? Does your heart condemn you? Do you have confidence toward God?
Scriptures for meditation:
Matthew 6:21; 15:18-19
Hebrews 3:12; 10:22; 13:9