Keep Your Heart!

by Lester Young

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it [come] the issues of life.” That’s Proverbs 4:23. The Amplified translation of it says to “guard your heart…above all that you guard…”. Well, that sounds quite reasonable; since if your heart gets damaged and stops beating, the rest of you is going to follow suit in pretty short order.

Of course, everybody already knows that’s not what that verse is referring to at all. It’s not talking about the blood pump encased inside your ribcage. No, not that heart – your other heart! Proverbs 4:23 is talking about your spirit… your inner self… the real you… you know, the part that gets born again! (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23) But you already knew that… yes, I know, I know.

Okay… so… guarding it. Guarding your heart – your spirit. How does one ‘guard’ his heart? How do we guard something that we never actually see, and that we all too often perceive far less than we should? Well, let me suggest a quick little exercise that might help identify your spirit’s ‘fingerprints,’ as it were. If you’ll take the time to draw yourself a few candid arrows, they’ll point right to the place your spirit is operating from. And if you can identify that ‘place,’ you’ll be in a much better position to know how to guard things – what to let in and what to keep, or kick, out.

Now, this exercise will work equally well for issues large or small, whatever the matter may be. Here’s what I want you to do: The next time you set out to do something – anything, whatever it is – ask yourself ‘why’ and/or ‘how’ you’re going to do whatever it is you’re gonna do. Take a few moments here; allow yourself the time to trace the reason all the way down to a root stimulus. But be aware that in order for you to get any value out of this, you’re going to need to be brutally honest with yourself; so be prepared to do just that.

These are the questions that will require honest answers: Are you doing [this action] because of love, charity or compassion? Or are you doing it just to be seen or to receive thanks? Are you doing it out of bitterness or jealousy? Are you doing it because you have to? And if so, are you putting your all into the performing of it, or just enough to get it done and get you by? Are you doing something – anything – out of fear? Begin to take a little time with yourself by getting quiet, looking inward and examining your deepest (and possibly most hidden) motivations. You’ll probably find it to be somewhat like riding a bike: a little tricky at first, but the more you just get on it try it, the easier (and more accurate) it becomes.

Have you ever heard the phrase “getting to the heart of the matter”? It means to move all the other camouflaging junk out of the way in order to reveal the true ‘vital principle’ of an issue – the basic ‘driving force’ of a situation. When you trace your motivations down to their base, it inevitably ‘locates’ or sheds light on your spirit, defining just what’s going on inside there. The Lord Jesus made reference to this ’cause-and-effect’ relationship when He declared, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). And because our tongue is the ‘rudder’ of our physical body – and indeed of our whole natural life on this earth (James 3:2-6) – I believe we can safely expand His teaching to say, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the body [eventually] acts.”

Jesus also made this statement to His followers: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). And that’s quite true; indeed, ALL words are spirit – they’re spiritual containers. All words, however, do not contain life. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that both “death and life are in the power of our tongues, and whichever one we choose to adhere to, that’s the one whose results we’ll get” (highly paraphrased of course, but you get the idea). Only Jesus’ words, which He got directly from His Heavenly Father, bring life (John 5:30, 14:24). And those are the Words we should be letting into our hearts in abundance, so that they can bring forth the issues – the forces, the results, the proof – of life! (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34-35)

Not guarding your heart – letting an abundance of the wrong thoughts and words get down in there and fester (and make no mistake, they will produce wrong motivations) – will ultimately cause your heart’s outflow to only be issues of death. So do this little exercise; take stock of your heart’s motivations. Once you’ve got that ‘inventory list’ in hand, it’ll be easy to identify the things God put in there (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Galatians 5:22-23) – and, just as importantly, the stuff He didn’t.

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2 Comments to “Keep Your Heart!”

  1. Great post! Good to have you back, Lester. Have a blessed day! 🙂

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