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Friday, May 27, 2016

Guard Your Heart (Proverbs 4:23)

 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

When my children were small the phrase "follow your heart" resounded throughout children's movies. The small dinosaurs were told by their elders to "follow your heart" in The Land Before Time. As my children watched that movie I picked up on that phrase "follow you heart" to teach them that the heart isn't a trustworthy guide. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the heart as "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."

There's a big difference between guarding your heart and following your heart. Why does Solomon urge those who seek after wisdom to guard their hearts? The heart is easily influenced by persuasive words and persuasive people. Solomon understood the importance of guarding his heart in retrospect. He violated the regulations regarding kings in Deuteronomy 17:14ff by marrying Pharaoh's daughter to solidify an alliance with Egypt (and many other women as well) and by amassing a huge personal fortune.

Throughout Proverbs Solomon warns men and women about many things. To name a few:
He warns about adultery and seductive women. Why? Seductive and adulterous women steal the heart.
He warns about stinginess. Why? Stinginess shrivels the heart.
He warns against laziness. Why? Laziness infects the heart.
He warns about pride. Why? Pride exalts the heart.
He warns about being undisciplined. Why? Undisciplined people follow their heart.
The heart has a tendency to drift--and never in the right direction!I think of the words of an old hymn, Come Thy Fount:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the One I love.
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.

We often ask God in prayer to do for us what He expects us to do for ourselves. Guarding our hearts is our responsibility and the door swings both ways. First, we keep the bad stuff from getting out (from out of the heart man speaks), which means that we discipline our thoughts and words. We then prevent the bad stuff from getting in (resentment, unforgiveness, etc.) which means we filter information coming our way. Because the heart is the wellspring of life, we can never afford to take a break from guard duty. Guarding our hearts is a full time job.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Proverbs 2:1-4:27
  • How does Solomon describe the search for wisdom?
  • What two things wisdom will save you from in chapter 2?
  • How does the wise man view discipline?
  • What analogy does Solomon use to describe wisdom?
  • What is the first revelation of God's wisdom?
  • Make a list of the "do not" statements in chapter 3:27-27. What are the negative consequences of these prohibitions?
  • Chapter 4:11-27 refers to path/s, way, travel, etc. Contrast the two paths, their descriptions, their travelers, and their destination.
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to reveal the unguarded areas of your heart.