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KEEP YOUR HEART - PART I
Diligently guard your heart against the defilement of bitterness. Hebrews 12:15
- Proverbs – the book of wisdom. Writer – Solomon. A proverb is a way of expressing a specific truth in a pointed, succinct/concise manner. The key verse is Pro 1:7.The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom begins with the healthy fear of God.
(a) The word ‘keep' means; Guard – It’s a military term meaning to watch over, to protect a treasure; to keep safely from enemy invaders. To protect from corruption, destruction, distortion, or decay. Guard/keep your heart as you would your valuables.
(b) The heart represents the core of who we are. It symbolizes the center of our innermost being. It refers to the lifespring or wellspring of your human spirit. It’s the seat of human personality - the fountainhead from which flows all our daily living. We often speak of the 'heart' of a problem – meaning the gist or core of the problem.’
So this proverb instructs us to:
- Diligently watch over your heart, the things you think about regularly. Pro 14:30, A sound heart is life to the body, both literally and figuratively speaking. –. The law of receiving says, whatever your eyes look at, your ears hear, and your mind ponders, - whatever you give your time to, will be deposited in your heart – and determine the quality of life you lead. These influences determine your actions. Guard your heart with due circumspection and introspection, because out of this seat of your emotions will flow the consequences and circumstances of your life.
- For example, If you awake thinking about someone who did you wrong, it won’t be long before you begin to feel miserable; with thoughts of sadness, anger, bitterness, revenge etc. Your joy or sorrow experienced will come forth from your heart. Your sense of fulfillment in life’s experiences will be determined by what you allow to enter and reside in your heart. The road to progress or to ruin. Nothing happens suddenly. No one suddenly becomes mean, difficult to live with, unforgiving and contentious. It takes years of practice - being mean, unforgiving and ornery, to develop such an unhealthy, negative personality. Indeed, our lives consist of a series of choices and consequences, cause and effect, sowing and reaping.
Choose your habits wisely, then.
- Guard against lustful thoughts; walk circumspectly. Don’t be naïve or simple. Be alert and aware, because the heart is the fountainhead of who we really are. Love, mercy, truth, justice, and all human traits abide there. In Mat 15:18, 19 Jesus says, but those things which proceed out of the mouth, come from the heart, and defile a person. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a person, says Jesus Christ. For out of our hearts we act out who we really are.
You see, ladies and gents, the heart of the problem is, indeed, a problem of the heart.
- Today we have a plethora of self-help books, workshops, seminars and conventions on the fine art of living the life you want. Everyone is busy, scurrying here and there to improve themselves, and their lot in life. We exercise diligently, diet religiously, seek the latest fad, all in a frantic quest for finding fulfilling relationships. All the while not realizing that the heart of the problem – success or failure, fulfillment or futility stems from within the heart – the human personality.
One of the most destructive of all human vices is bitterness. Diligently guard your heart against the defilement of bitterness.
Don’t let bitterness enter in and destroy your relationships.
Life is about relationships, not achievements, not how well we dress, the car we drive, the house we live in, or the amount of money we earn.
- First and foremost, there is the vertical relationship. It's about developing a close relationship, a friendship with God that will last forever. Man is a worshipper by nature. We were born to worship God. We said that the key verse of this Book is Pro 1:7. John 3:16. states: God so loved the world ... When you become born again, God sends His blessed Holy Spirit to reside in your heart. Gal 4:6 reminds us that because you’re sons, God has sent His Spirit into your hearts; responding “Abba, Father”. We are no longer strangers or like sheep gone astray, but we’re like a child at home. We know we belong.
That takes care of our relationship with God our Heavenly Father.
- Then there’s the horizontal ~ relationship with others ~ In our modern times, it’s been said we’re living in an era of crowded loneliness. So many are surfing through life on fleeting, surface relationships. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Seeking love in so many faces. But even in a desperate and disposable society as ours, every person needs at least one essential friend. Indeed, friends are life’s greatest treasures – more valuable than gold – more precious than diamonds.
Shakespeare said in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: “Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel.” Keep them close to you. Don’t you let them loose. Prov 18:24 reminds us, ‘There’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’
Euripides once said, One loyal friend is worth 10,000 relatives.
It’s said, of all the things granted by wisdom, none - is greater or better than a friend.
Yes, true friends give wise counsel. Just to mention the story of David and Jonathan. Scripture affirms Jonathan loved David as his own soul. Friends affirm. Friends uphold and encourage. Indeed, Friends are the wind beneath our sails on the ocean of life.
And that’s why Prov 12:26 warns, You must choose your friends wisely, because the wrong friends will lead you astray. Everyone adds or takes away from you. John Maxwell, world-renowned motivational speaker, says, “Each relationship nurtures a strength or a weakness within you.” Some people are chronic complainers. At first, they shake your hands, then your confidence. They have toxic attitudes. Do you know anyone like that? They complain about everything: the weather, their jobs, their friends, their spouse etc. Ah they’re so joyless. You show them the rainbow, they’ll talk about the rain. You show them the silver lining, they’ll show you the clouds. They’re so negative, if you put them in a dark room - they’ll develop – all by themselves. That’s a friend who does not add but takes away from your life. You should try to influence that friend or cut them loose. Prov 14:7 commands: Go from the presence of a foolish person when you observe they don’t speak wisely. That will take care of half your problems. Guard your heart diligently, for out it comes the issues of life.
The truth is, it’s impossible to go through life without someone hurting or offending us. Into every life, some rain must fall. Your experiences will either make you better or bitter. If we’re not careful, we can allow bitterness and unforgiveness to reside in our hearts. A bitter person, out of the bitterness of their own heart, will infect you. Things happen, and we keep rehearsing them – we never allow ourselves to forget. You can think of incidents repeatedly, and become enslaved, chained by your memories to your past - until resentment and ill-will take deep root within, and like an acorn, begin to grow and eventually bitterness overwhelms your life. E.g. In marriage, when a spouse feels constantly ignored, rejected or beaten down; - anger, frustration, and resentment can so fill their heart until that home becomes an unlivable hell – a house of two bitter people, prisioners, who suck the joy out of life on a daily basis. Hebrews 12:14 says: “Be careful lest any root of bitterness, springing up, troubles you. Trouble your pleasant personality, your sweet spirit, your love and devotion to God; and others whose lives you touch, become defiled in the process. For out of our hearts we vocalize words, which indicate who we really are. A bitter person, out of the bitterness of their own heart, will infect you. Of course, you’ve heard it said: ‘misery loves company.’
Are you a bitter person? Do you hold unforgiveness inside? Don’t let it reside there. It’s destroying you, friend. It’s satan’s lethal weapon. God made you to live a fulfilling life, so you must guard your heart diligently.
Our thoughts govern our actions.
Since your thoughts determine your character, what thoughts do you have about yourself, your friends, your work? They determine the decisions you make in life. What you’re sowing in your heart is what is producing your harvest.
As a man thinks in his heart. What do you think about most? Are your thoughts about past hurts? How is your life? You can break free this moment. Jesus Christ says in John 10:10, “I’ve come that YOU may have life, and have it more abundantly.“
- Pray this prayer: “O God, I surrender my heart to you; all my fears, my hurts and pains. I believe that Jesus Christ died and lives again for me.
- Life’s issues and consequences flow out of your heart.
Guard your thoughts/ spirit diligently,
for out of your heart flow all your tomorrows
~ the issues of your life!
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