“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
When I was a teenager this verse became my mantra as it pertained to relationships with guys. I didn’t want to ‘give my heart away’ or become emotionally attached to anyone that I didn’t think I could potentially marry. While I’m confident that the Lord used this to protect me from relational heartache, I also think that I misunderstood the point of this verse.
Keeping, or guarding, our hearts goes much deeper than protecting it from emotional involvement and/or potential emotional hurt. And it covers a lot more than relationships with the opposite sex.
We hear the word ‘heart’ in this verse and we might think affections or emotions. In Old Testament times the heart was considered to be the core of a person. The heart was the affections, yes, but it was also the seat of the will and moral purpose.
Every decision for right and wrong stems from the heart.
In order to guard it, we must know God’s Word. We must learn to delight in it, making it our guide for every thought, word and deed.
We must be proactive in our pursuit of righteousness.
Solomon goes on in Proverbs 4 to list some specific areas our hearts will affect:
“Put away from you crooked speech…”
Pure speech will flow from a heart that is being careful to uphold purity.
“Let your eyes look directly forward…”
Our eyes will be fixed on Jesus when our hearts are fixed on Jesus and we will run the race before us, throwing aside every hindrance of sin.
“Ponder the path of your feet...”
If our hearts are pursuing the things of God then every decision we make, every path we walk, will be in line with God’s purposes.
“Do not swerve to the right or to the left…”
Keeping our hearts from evil will keep us on a straight path. In relationships, in decision-making, in conduct, in speech, in all areas of life.
In his commentary on this verse, Matthew Henry says:
We must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves, and set a strict guard, accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul; keep our hearts from doing hurt and getting hurt, from being defiled by sin and disturbed by trouble; keep them as our jewel, as our vineyard; keep a conscience void of offence; keep out bad thoughts; keep up good thoughts; keep the affections upon right objects and in due bounds. Keep them with all keepings…by care, by strength, by calling in help, and we must use them all in keeping our hearts…
…because out of it are the issues of life. Out of a heart well kept will flow living issues, good products, to the glory of God and the edification of others…
I want my daughters to glorify God and edify others. This will spring from a heart that is being kept to carefully pursue righteousness.
“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”
This is Day 28 of a series “Lessons for my Daughters”. Click here for a complete list of posts.