Posted by: austend | Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Keep Your Heart

Proverbs 4.23 has a needful warning to believers:

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (ESV)

What does “keep your heart” mean?  The NET Bible translates it, “Guard your heart…”  Solomon is warning anyone who is wise that we must protect ourselves.  Notice also how we are to do that–“with all vigilance.”  That implies being constantly aware and watching.  It is a perpetual state of alertness.  There can be no passiveness in our spiritual self-discipline.  And why should we “keep our heart”?  Because, “from it flows the springs of life.”  In other words, every part of our life–our thoughts, our actions, our attitudes, our philosophy, our convictions, our worldview–flows from our heart.  Our heart is a spring–the source of our lives.

Why is this so important?  Remember Jesus’ words:

…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6.45)

Or Solomon’s words from elsewhere taken out of context:

for as he thinks in his heart, so is he…. (Prov. 23.7 KJV)

Who we are in our heart of hearts is who we are really.  If we are greedy and covetous in our heart, then that greed and covetousness will begin to be seen in our actions sooner or later.  If we are angry and bitter inside, then we will become angry and bitter outside.  There is no fighting who we are in our hearts.  It will always come out.  We can hide it for a long time, and do a good job at that, but who we are on the inside always wins out.

That is why it is essential for believers to guard our hearts will all vigilance.  We are outside who we are inside.  And how do we become a certain way inside?  By our spiritual diet.  By what we fixate on.  By what we meditate on.  By what we spend our time on.  If we spend all our time daydreaming about success and who we want to be and live in a fantasy world, then not only will we be utterly useless at the present moment, but we’ll also become disillusioned and bitter when those dreams don’t come true.  Same thing with wealth.

If our diet consists of immorality of any kind, then that is how we will ultimately become. We will become perverse people, incapable of carrying on meaningful relationships since we are consumed by thoughts of immorality because that is what we have been feeding our heart.

If we meditate only on shallow, meaningless things from the present world, then that is what our lives will be about, even if we put on the show of being spiritual and deep and mature.  Who we are inside is who we are, even if we have a nicer-looking facade on the outside.

We have to guard our hearts and keep out all those things that would make us into someone that God doesn’t want us to be.  We have to protect ourselves.  No one is going to do it for us.  We must be the ones either allowing or blocking images, thoughts, philosophies, ideas, music, movies, books, gossip, and infatuations from entering our hearts.  Once those things are in our hearts, it becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to remove those things.  They are always there to harass and tempt us.  And remember, who we are on the inside is who we are.  If we take garbage in, we will give garbage back out.

And we must do this will all vigilance.  We must take “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10.5).  We must examine and try (as in a court of law) every thing we spend time on to see if it is either leading us closer to Christ or drawing us away from Him.

What’s the big deal with one act of sin or one bad movie?  One always wants to become two.  Two always wants to become three.  That’s the way habits are begun.  They always begin innocently enough, cleverly disguised and packaged by the Father of Lies.  And they always seek to ensnare us.  But we must “guard our  hearts with all vigilance,” looking and forbidding even the smallest thing that may cause us to sin.

A wise old seminary professor used to say,

Watch your beginnings!

And so we must do.  We must “guard our hearts with all vigilance,” for whatever we ingest through our eyes and ears and thoughts goes into our hearts.  And from the heart “flows the springs of life.”  We are on the outside who we are on the inside.


  1. We all enjoy your post. We will keep looking for more.

    The Crew

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