Summary: In Prov. 4:23, Solomon said, above all else, guard your heart. That sounds pretty important. Let's see what is involved in that, why that is so important and what will help us to do it.
GUARD YOUR HEART
In Prov. 4:23, Solomon said, above all else, guard your heart. That sounds pretty important. Let's see what is involved in that, why that is so important and what will help us to do it.
1) Guarding our heart involves other body parts.
Prov. 4:20-27, "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."
Solomon tells his son (and us) to listen closely. What we listen to plays a role in guarding our hearts. When we hear something that's beneficial we need to lock it up in our hearts. And we need to guard our hearts from believing things that are not good for us to entertain.
We will hear things that stir up our emotions; things that make us feel good. Not that the word of God doesn't produce good feelings but it goes deeper than that. With the word of God there is wisdom and substance attached to it.
But there are plenty of things that stimulate good feelings that are harmful to us. When we hear things like, 'just follow your heart' and we agree with it and take it to heart, that's not good. This adage is bad advice. It sounds good and it may not always turn out badly, but it often will because our feelings do not always dictate right choices. Many bad choices start out with good feelings.
On the contrary, there are some things that do not give us nice feelings that are actually good for us. Doing the right thing when we don't feel like it is a good thing. Honoring God when our heart isn't quite in it is a good thing. So, our ears play a key role in guarding our hearts. We need to keep wisdom in our heart and block foolishness from entering it.
Solomon says, above all else, guard your heart. Guarding our hearts is the top priority. Why? Because it is the wellspring of life. What's that mean? This is the only time the word wellspring occurs in the NIV. The wellspring is likened to being filled with good things. We need to store them up.
Often in scripture the heart means the mind but it can also mean the emotions. We need to guard both. If we don't guard our heart we will lose the good things that are in it and invite bad things to replace them. We need to keep the words of wisdom in our heart because they will be our very life.
If we live according to the wisdom of God we will benefit in every area of our lives but if these principles are not in our hearts then we will go through the motions at best and ignore them at worst. If I go through the motions they will not be a wellspring for me, they'll be superficial behaviors and not truly life changing ones.
We think of a wellspring being fresh and invigorating. We think of a vibrant, joyous spirit. And that type of behavior is infectious and contagious. It inspires people; it motivates them. A well is a container of water and a spring is flowing water. So when my heart contains good things and I let them flow, my guarded heart is a wellspring of life that blesses me and those around me.
Then Solomon goes on to talk about our mouths. Put away perversity and corrupt talk. Obscenities, vulgarities, provocative, suggestive, lewd words. Lies, deceit, smooth talk, flattery, dishonest, crooked, shady speech. Put it away and keep it far away.
Jesus said in Matt. 12 that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. So if we think words are just instinctive or meaningless we're wrong. Whatever is stored up in our hearts is going to overflow and come out of our mouths. That's why above all we need to guard our heart. My heart is a wellspring; the question is, is it overflowing with sweet nectar or bitter poison? Is my heart producing fresh water that nourishes those around me or is it producing dirty water that makes people ill?
Prov. 22:17-18, "Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips."