The Scriptures reveal to us that God knows the hearts of men. He knows the character of a person even if the rest of the world cannot see it. As Samuel was at the house of Jesse to anoint a new king for Israel, he saw the oldest son, Eliab, and thought that he would make a fine king. God said that Eliab was not to be king and reminded Samuel that He looks on the heart of a man not the outside.
Even though we like to think of our hearts are hidden and our thoughts a secret, they are not so from God. So Solomon’s advice to his son has a lot of activity for us to do or not do but it starts with the heart. Because from the heart flow the issues of life. The downstream consequences of our thoughts will be seen by the actions we take.
What happens when the heart is not guarded?
The problem we have is that our “bad” thoughts tend toward selfishness. It is not always as extreme as Genesis 6:5
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
But, even the shortsightedness of the rich man shows that his thoughts were on himself when they could have included others.
Luk 12:17-21 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ (18) And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ (20) But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (21) So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Most of us, are interested in the “what’s in it for me?” part of anything. Unfortunately, when we focus on that, we will find ourselves wandering away from God.
How can we guard our heart?
It begins by what you put into the heart. So we need to pay attention to that carefully. Jesus said in Luke 8:18 “take heed how you hear”. So we need to pay attention to the advice given by Solomon and, by extension, God.
Children are commanded by God to obey their parents. There are many reasons for this but one that fits in this context is “Parents have more experience.” Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from those who have gone on before you. As children, we often think, “I know better” but later on, after we grow up, we realize that our parents were not so ignorant after all.
Parents, then, have the responsibility to train their children correctly. Yes, this even includes telling them “how” to think: what is a good way to think and a bad way to think. We train them in God’s ways so they can live to God. Don’t think that they will just find it on their own.
Of course, as adults, we need to realize that God is our Father and we are His children. So we need to be willing to let Him train us as well.
First, Guard your heart!
The sermon dealing with this topic can be heard here.