Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guarding Your Heart for the Lord (Part 1)

Listen to this verse in a couple other translations of Proverbs 4:23: 

"Keep your heart more than anything that is guarded, out of it are the issues of life." JND

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the spring of life." ESV

"Keep your heart more with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." NKJV
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." NLT

What is the Heart?
What does it mean to guard your heart? First off let's ask what do we mean when we use the term heart? When the Bible uses this word it is not referring to the muscular pump in our chest, for God Himself has a heart and He is Spirit. The Hebrew word for heart is lebab. It not only includes the motives, feelings affections, and desires, but also the will, aims, principles thought and intellect.

The first place the word heart is used in the Bible is in Genesis 6:5, where we read "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil." Then in the next verse we read "the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." These are the first two usages of the word heart. In the New Testament the Greek word for Heart is kardia, from which we get the word cardiology. The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of the spirit and soul. So the heart is the real you, your inner core, it is the in contrast to the external side.

What does it mean to "keep" or "guard" your heart?
The word keep means to guard or to watch over, it means to pay very close attention to. Our hearts are very valuable. We don't guard worthless things. We take our garbage to the street every Thursday night. It is picked up Friday morning. It sits on on the street all night long completely unguarded because it is worthless. I don't stand guard over my garbage, even though it is true one mans junk is another man's treasure. But you don't guard things that you deem worthless!

Why does God put such an emphasis on your heart?
Look at Proverbs 23:7, there we read, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." The heart is the real you and according to this verse, what is in your heart is what you are! From the heart all our actions flow. The Lord Jesus confirmed this when He declared that, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure in his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." So the heart determines our actions and it also determines what we value "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:45). The heart determines our life style, "the fool says in his heart there is no God" (Psalm 14:1), so he lives like there is no God or a day when we must give account to that God. Our hearts determine how we treat one another, the Lord brought this out in the parable of the Servants. The one "servant said in his heart 'My master is delaying his coming and begins to beat the men servants.." (Luke 12:45). Our hearts can cause us to get distracted and we are counseled to "take heed to yourselves lest your heart be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the cares of this life.." (Luke 21:34).

All this show us that out of our heart flow the issues of life. If our heart is kept right, our life will be honoring to the Lord. He is looking for hearts that are right before Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong to those whose heart is loyal to Him."

God knows your heart
 The Bible says, "man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." He know and test the hearts and most secret parts of man (Psalm 7:9, Jeremiah 11:20, Acts 1:24). Scripture reminds us that all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him whom we have to do" meaning that He knows our motives and the intentions of our hearts.

Keep the streams pure
Our hearts are like the source or pool of water that feeds a mountain streams. Proverbs 4:23 challenges us to "watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life" (NASV). We should want to keep the source clear an unpolluted from anything and everything that would affect the flow of pure water. If we plug up the spring with too much junk it will hinder the flow. If we poison the water, the water will become toxic. In either situation, you threaten life downstream. Just like everything depends on the condition of the source, so too in our own life if our heart in unhealthy everything else will be affected.

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