“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
The Bible tells us to ‘keep’ or to ‘guard’ our heart with all diligence. To ‘guard’ means: to watch over in order to control entry and exit, to take precautions against, to protect against damage or harm. The dictionary describes diligence as ‘careful and persistent work or effort’.
In other words, we must be extremely careful about our heart. I’m not talking about the lump of flesh that pumps blood around our body, though naturally we are all keen to protect that. I’m talking about the heart as the center of our thoughts and emotions. We talk of having ‘peace in our heart’ or of being ‘hard hearted’.
The Bible says we must strive to protect this place because out of it spring the issues of life. It’s the place where we love or hate. It’s a strong force in our decision making and so influential in our actions.
It is also the place where we get wounded from time to time. Harsh words or some bad experience can get to our heart. We have to decide to get better or get bitter. When we are growing up, it’s easy to get hurt by the words or actions of others. If love was withheld from us in our formative years or we encountered periods of bullying and control by others, our heart can be wounded. Sadly, that is just life and true for most of us to one degree or another.
“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” – Psalms 109:22
We need to deal with the issues of our heart otherwise they will deal with us. They will fester and grow even darker. Every murder began with a resentment, which grew into a hatred, which gave birth to a killing. This is why we must guard our heart with all diligence.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” – Matthew 15:19
In order to stop these evil things coming out of our heart, we must put good things into our heart. We do this by reading, meditating and thinking about God’s word. Memorising scripture stores it up in our hearts and brings light into our inner darkness.
“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” – Psalms 19:8
If we are going to guard our heart, remember God’s word tells us we must do it ‘with all diligence’ or with ‘careful and persistent work or effort’. This is so important we should allocate a space everyday to check our heart. I find it works best by spending a little time alone first thing in the day and last thing at night. It’s not always possible but it should be our default routine. The Bible has a simple prayer for these moments.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” – Psalms 51:10
Healing for our heart begins with sorting out our relationships. To have peace in our heart requires peace in our relationships as far as it depends on us. If our relationships are chaotic, it will be hard to keep peace in our heart.
Relationships will always be your greatest source of pain and your greatest source of joy. We were created for relationships. When they are good they are such a blessing. When they go wrong, they are so painful. But this is life.
Above all, healing for our heart begins with sorting out our relationship with God. Opening our heart to him and allowing him access to our inmost thoughts is the beginning of healing for our heart.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” – Psalms 139:23
Some people want to serve God but only as advisors. If we want real healing in our heart we must give everything over to God. We must let him determine the outcome of situations. We must grasp, in spite of all our self-centred, arrogant thinking, that God knows far better than we do how to act in every situation.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
Sometimes I think we spend far to long looking at where we’ve been and where we are. When what we should be looking at is where we are going. What I am sure of is that our heart is very precious and will determine our future happiness. This is why Christians sometimes use the phrase ‘I invited Jesus into my heart’. What does that mean? It means that we allow Jesus to deal with all our pain, all our hurt, all our frustration and invite him to live in that secret place.
The alternative is that our heart becomes filled with dark thoughts, strife and anger. And ‘anger’ is only one letter away from ‘danger’.
How is your heart today?