Wisdom Series: The Importance of Keeping Your Heart Through the Word

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Heart.

This fountain in the soul of a person acts like a rudder on a ship or plane.  It is the place where choices and decisions spring from. In this proverb, we are instructed to “keep” or “guard” this precious fountain called the heart with the same vigor, attentiveness, and sense of duty that a prison guard would have in guarding an inmate in a cell. To convey this sentiment, Solomon uses the phrase, “with all diligence”.

This idea of a man tending and keeping that which is precious in God’s eyes goes all the way back to Adam. Consider what God said to Adam about the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:15, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”  Adam’s inability to properly carry out God’s command in regard to the garden of God led to his ultimate downfall.  So too, if we allow our hearts to be pulled away from God to lesser pleasures and the cares of this life, we will find ourselves living a style and quality of life that hardly reflects our beliefs.  

A Wayward Heart.

A wayward heart will deal with the issues of life in unbiblical ways which dishonor God. Ever have a moment of clarity but that moment came at a time when you were doing something carnal? It’s not a good feeling. However, the fact that moments come when we realize we are acting out of an unbiblical place are a sign that we are born of God. 1 Jn 3:9 says, “ No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” Through our diligence, we should seek to lessen these moments by throwing ourselves upon God’s grace and by submitting to His word. 

Some Helpful Verses

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11). The Hebrew word “hidden” is the word “tsaphan”  which is a verb denoting a covering action. What is interesting about this is that the covering is one that would be used when you cover or hide a treasure. So the verse could be read, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Only when the Word is a treasure to us, will sin look like a truly evil invader. Then we will guard our hearts with all diligence.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). Part of “Keeping your heart with all diligence” is knowing where to go and where to avoid. We can all attest to the fact that when we have strayed from the biblical path, many “issues of life” have arisen from those choices. Calvin puts it this way in his commentary on Psalm 119, “we become entangled in inextricable and frightful mazes.” Keeping yourself (and thus your heart) in the word will cause you to avoid many of these unnecessary issues.

I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Ps 40:8). This verse is stating virtually the same thing as the verse from Psalm 119:11. The only difference is that it is using a positive affirmation “I delight to do Your will” instead of “that I might not sin against You.” Both communicate that when the word of God takes root deep within the heart, the result will be our delight in doing that which pleases the Lord.

So…

If the word of God “dwells within your richly” (Col 3:16), you are a child of the Most High God. You are a recipient of the New Covenant (Jer 31:33). You are a “partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). As such you must not relax. You must be on guard for there is one who seeks to steal and assault this nature you have. He would seek to pollute the “spring” of your life and thus pollute all you say and do. And instead of being a fountain of living water (Jn 7:38) you will be a fountain of bitter water.

Finally, if reading this is sparking in you a desire to more diligently keep and guard your heart, then you needn’t look further than your Bible. It will show you the way to go. Spend quality time in it each day. Consider replacing watching a television show with opening the Scriptures and trust God to work. You will discover that the Psalmist was right when he wrote, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11)

Keeping your heart with God, through the word, will bear tremendous fruit. It may come slowly but it will be fruit that remains. You will see yourself relating to and dealing with the world around you from a biblically informed perspective and your transformation will have begun.

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