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Guard your heart-part 2

be-careful-little-handsThere is a song that is song by many young children in Bible schools: “O be careful little hands what you do…” and each verse talks about being careful for our little eyes, mouth, and feet. The passage under consideration in this post and the first part, remind me of that song.

Pro 4:20-27 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. (21) Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. (22) For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. (23) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (24) Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. (25) Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (26) Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (27) Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Having looked at verses 20-23 last time, let’s look at the verses that follow.

Be careful little mouth what you say.

Part of guarding your heart is to remove certain words. Because those words reflect a worldly thought process. When James says that a man who does not bridle his tongue has a vain religion (James 1:26-27), he affirms the need to control what we say. (And he does a good job of that in Chapter 3.) This would, of course, include profane and blasphemous words but we should not stop there because for the most part those who practice Christianity do not engage in that kind of language. Let us also include lies, crude humor, gossip, rumors, and even complaining (grumbling) which are more likely to trip up a Christian who finds this type of tongue use used even by Christians.

{While I am on this topic, allow me to point out a pet peeve. It is to repeat a joke or a funny incident in which one says “Now he said something that I can’t say” or ” he used words I don’t use” and then go on with the story. We all find funny things that, if cleaned up, can be repeated but why plant in the listener’s mind, leaving it to a very powerful imagination, to hear bad words in their head? If you can’t repeat it without pointing out that you have edited it for bad language, then don’t repeat it at all!}

Be careful little eyes what you see.

A couple of times in my youth, I was fortunate to go fly in a small Cessna plane and even more fortunate to be allowed to fly the plane. I was advised to find a point far off in the distance and focus on that. In other words, “look in the direction that you want to go.”

Perhaps you have seen video of people who fall into pools, off cliffs, or nearly get ran over in traffic because they were texting as they walked. If your eyes are not focused on where you are going then you will not easily arrive at your destination. In fact, if you do arrive, you may be worse off than if you had paid attention. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:1-4)

The world is good at distracting us. Even logging on to check email can be a challenge with this ad over here or that captivating caption over there. Let us not get so caught up in the world that we do not see the finish line ahead of us.

Be careful little feet where you go

Ponder the path you are on. This is always good advice. We need to test ourselves and be sure our feet are on the strait and narrow, not the wide and easy way. Sometimes we envy the wicked and wish to have what they have, considering perhaps whether it is worth it to live for God. Banish that thinking and set your feet to the path that Jesus walked.

Avoid evil companions who will entice you to walk in darkness. If we walk in the light as He is in the light then the blood of His Son cleanses us. (I john 1:7)

Solomon encouraged his son with word of wisdom to live a life that was a good one. We also can find good advice for our lives in his words. The sermon for part 2 is available here.

 

 

Guard your heart-part 1

guard-your-heartSolomon offers his son advice for living in Proverbs 4:23-27. This post, and part two, center on this advice which is appropriate for all of us.

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.

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