Summary: Godliness is maintained by persistent attention and protection of our attitude toward the truth.
Title: Guard Your Heart
Text: Proverbs 4:20-27
Truth: Godliness is maintained by persistent attention and protection of our attitude toward familiar truth.
Aim: To help them maintain consistent Christian living.
Life ?: How do we maintain consistent Christian living?
Despite the advances in medical science, heart disease has historically been the number one killer in America. I did hear on a news broadcast that this past year more people died of cancer related causes than heart disease. In any given year three quarters to one million Americans die. One-third to one-half of those deaths is heart related.
Every hour this little muscle, the size of the fist, pumps 250 lbs of blood. In one day it will beat 103,000 times and 168,000 miles are traveled through the bloodstream. The heart is the central focus of our physical life. When it fails, we fail. When it hurts, we are in serious trouble.
God is equally concerned about the central focus of our spiritual life. We often refer to that area by calling it our heart. In the Bible the word “heart” is often interchanged with the word “soul” which takes its root from a word that means “to breathe.” So the heart is the part of a man that gives him life—that propels him and supplies him with his get-up-and-go.
Sometimes the heart refers to our emotions, what we feel. Sometimes it refers to our will, the ability to choose. Sometimes it refers to our conscience, the ability to know right from wrong. Sometimes the heart refers to our awareness, that ability that tunes us into reality. And sometimes the heart refers to our mind, our ability to think. When we speak of the heart we often times are referring to our emotions or will or morality or consciousness or thinking. In other words, the person that is looking at me through your eyes, that’s your heart. It is your inner person. Your thoughts, your desires, all that goes in to making you, you. To study the heart is to go to the deepest level where you live. God has many things to say about our heart. In this text, God says guard your heart.
All of us know Christians who at one time were active in the church, but now they have fallen away. Maybe that describes your past and you have returned to active Christian service. What happened to those who fell away? They know better. The answer is in this text. They failed to guard their heart. For you see godliness is maintained by persistent attention and protection of our attitude toward the truth.
How do we maintain consistent Christian living?
I. PERSISTENT ATTENTION TO TRUTH (PROVERBS 4:20-22)
Repeatedly, Solomon calls his son to be mindful of the truths he taught him. He wants his son to be thoughtful and attentive to these truths. Notice 4:1, 10, 20; 5:1, 7.
Success in any endeavor is the result of paying attention to the details and following through. Do you think Bob Stoop’s success, as football coach at OU, is the result of just drawing up a few plays on Saturday morning and rehearsing with his team before they take the field? The reason some Christians fall by the wayside is they stop being attentive to their heart.
So how do we pay attention to the truth so that we maintain godliness? First, we must listen to the truth. A stewardess was frustrated by passengers’ inattentiveness during her what-to-do-in-an-emergency talk at the beginning of each flight, so she changed the wording. She said, “When the mask drops down in front of you, place it over your navel and continue to breathe normally.” Not a single passenger noticed.
Some parents teach their children not to listen. You know the kind. “I’m not telling you again, then I’m going to do something.” That kid knows that until a certain decibel of scream is reached that the parent doesn’t mean it. But here it is not instruction to parents to teach their children to listen, but for children to take responsibility to listen to the instruction of the parent.
Most of you have been in Sunday School this morning. Were you listening to hear God speak the truth to you? We’re half way through the worship service. Have you heard from God yet? Yes, the truth needs to be presented in an appealing manner, but all the effort to hear God’s truth does not rest on the teacher or preacher. You have a responsibility to listen to the truth.
A second way to be attentive to the truth is to remember the truth (v.21). I had a really clever story to tell you to illustrate this point, but I forgot it. You say, “What good is that?” No good at all. That’s my point. What’s the use of learning the truth if it is not remembered?