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Guard Your Heart

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and can make it real in our lives. The title for the lesson is, “Guard your Heart,” and it is taken from our text in the Old Testament, the book of Proverbs chapter four verses 20 through 27. Listen to the Word of God.

My son, pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.  Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Put away perversity from your mouth. Keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead. Fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left. Keep your foot from evil. This is the Word of God.

The human heart, indeed, is a magnificent marvel, pointing us to our creator craftsman. Our heart is the hard working muscular pump whose steady action sustains life. With each beat our heart sends blood throughout the body to carry oxygen and food to all the body’s cells. Every minute a healthy heart pumps about five and a quarter quarts of blood. In one day the heart pumps almost 2000 gallons of blood. In 70 years, therefore, the heart pumps about 50 million gallons of blood and beats about two and a half billion times. Incredible. That was not initiated by evolution.  That is by Elohim, the executive God of our creation.

I remember many years ago my number one son was about four years old who was his hyper self, bouncing up and down on the bed, giving me heartburn. And he noticed his heart was beating fast and so he exclaimed to me:  Make it stop. So I said: If it stops, you die. To which he said: No, make it run. Make it go. So I reluctantly said: Well, then bounce. And so he continued his hyper self, his heart beating faster and faster.

We all need to guard our physical hearts and strive to keep our muscular pumps healthy. But we need to especially pay even more attention to our spiritual hearts, because these physical hearts of ours are only temporary, even if, indeed, prone to diseases of the heart and blood vessels, whereas, our spiritual heart, figuratively, is the very center, the core of who we are morally, ethically toward God and others.  Moreover, spiritual disease of our moral heart must be mandatory be cured and redeemed because according to Jeremiah chapter 17 and verse nine, the heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  In order to be with God in eternity we need to be cured of our sin problem. We all have spiritual disease and sin has eternal consequences. There are only two destinations. We are either heaven bound or hell bound.

A cardiologist, a heart doctor, according to his or her God given abilities, possibly can cure a physical heart.  However, only our creator God can cure our spiritual heart, our hearts spiritually and that not by our own blood, but only by the blood of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer applied to our individual, personal sin disease, effective through faith in our Savior.

Our text in Proverbs chapter four verses 20 through 27 gives us more insights into these truths regarding our spiritual hearts, the inner man, the inner woman. This passage gives us godly wisdom to sustain a maturing spiritual heart so that we can be after the Lord’s own heart.  Proverbs chapter four and verses 20 through 21 we see here that in this case Solomon exhorted his son and so, by extension, all believers including us today to, quote, pay attention, to listen closely to my words. Keep them within your heart, end of quote.
Our heart here being our inner person, the very center and core of our thinking, of our emotion, of our will. Therefore, our heart here refers to our whole inner being whom we really are in our heart of hearts, our attitudes, our motivations.

In verse 22 it says: For they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Well, the they refers to Godly words or godly wisdom and they are life which refers to spiritual life, even eternal life.  Health to a man’s whole body refers to spiritual health to a person’s whole inner person.  And why is this important to all of us as believers? The answer is in Proverbs chapter four and verse 23, which can also, of course, be for all who would be believers, which says: Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life. So as of first importance, guard, protect, keep diligently our inner person with God there.  That is, to strive to filter all our thoughts, our words, our deeds through God as our Lord and as our Master, the Lord must be on the throne of our hearts, our inner being to produce right thoughts and words and deeds.

In fact, our heart, our inner person is the wellspring of life. Well, what does that mean? A wellspring literally is the source of a stream or a natural spring, like a fountain head. Water is necessary for physical life. Similarly our inner being, our genuine thoughts and attitudes and values outflow with our words and our deeds.  That is, everything that you and I are and do flows out of our inner being.  So we must carefully guard our hearts. Ultimately it is from our inner being that we have faith and are faithful to God through which we can inherit eternal life by God’s grace.

Note three very important points here. First, this is a command from God.  Guard our hearts. It is a command from God to us.  Secondly, this is an intense priority above all else, that is, first and foremost.  We must obey this command to guard our hearts. Thirdly, there is a most important reason for this command by application to all of us.  It is the wellspring or the source of life, because from our human source, our inner self comes direction for this life. So basically this is revealing to us that the will of God both discovering it and living it, comes through our inner being. Obviously God is the source of all that is righteous, but it comes through our inner being. So we need to remain sensitive to God’s promptings, to God’s seeking to communicate to us his will, which today is primarily through his Word, the Scriptures and by his Spirit, the Holy Spirit and sometimes also through other mature Christians and even experiences and sometimes God can even reach us through unbelievers. God is sovereign and he has a variety and diverse ways of reaching us with his will. We need divine directions.  We need divine guidance for our decisions in this life.  We need to keep our hearts in a state of readiness and receptivity to receive God’s will for our lives.  If our hearts conversely are carnal, calloused, closed to God’s Word, to God’s will, God’s directions will be blocked. God does not force himself on us, except in rare cases and never for salvation. It is our choice to receive today Christ as our Savior or not to receive Christ. And Jesus himself said: You are either for me or against me. And God will enforce our decision, our choice.  Are we in Christ or are we outside of Christ?  We need to make that decision consciously, deliberately, personally.
Now in verses 24 through 27 Solomon applied and illustrated the command to guard one’s heart.  Verse 24.  It says, in part: Keep corrupt talk, perverse talk far from your lips, because the way we think, our attitudes come out with the way we speak, the way we converse, the way we talk. In verse 25 it says, in part: Let your eyes look straight ahead, that is, regarding sin like lust through the eye gate to the heart.  And lust cannot only be sexual lust, it can also be lusting after property, after fame, after power, lusting after that which our neighbor has or what have you. Verses 26 and 27 says, in part: Take only ways that are firm. That is, firm here, for example, in the Lord’s will, firmly tied to the Word of God. And also keep your foot from evil, that is, in what we do and where we go. The words here in our text of paths and ways can refer to our behavior, our conduct. May it be godly ways, godly paths and not ungodly.
Jesus Christ himself sums this all up in his words in the gospel of Luke chapter six and verse 45, which says: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart. And the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. So probably Jesus had this text and similar texts in the Old Testament in his mind and heart as he shared these truths many centuries later after the time of Solomon. We should know that our heart is like the fingerprint of our soul.  God can cure, can conserve our hearts according to his heart if we will cooperate with him. God does heart transplants. God can continue to counsel our hearts according to his will and his ways. God can help us to bypass eventually our hurts and help us to mend our hearts. God is the master heart surgeon. God can fix the heart broken if we let him. So we must open our hearts to God. We must guard our hearts.  And God so deeply desires to give us a new heart after his own heart.  So will you open your heart to God?

 

David Johnson is minister of Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8