Summary: King Solomon gathered his sons to give them life-giving advice. What did he tell them and how can we use that same advice today? Consider these thoughts from our Family Minister Scott Jewell.
Read Passage. Pray.
I’m part of a group of preachers who meet weekly for lunch, to discuss life, and to plan sermons. Some of us have been using this month to preach on the them of “under construction.” Jeff recently shared the acronym “PBPGINFWMY”, Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet. It’s a good reminder that none of us have arrived yet, that we all have something to work on as we mature in our faith .
As I read through this passage, I pictured a father gathering his sons around so they can have a serious talk. That’s why I’m sitting on a stool down off the stage instead of up behind the pulpit. This text doesn’t feel like a lecture or sermon, but more of a family meeting, let’s have a more intimate conversation. I remember when my dad decided it was time to have the talk with me. It was a later night, we were riding in the car together, and he decided it was time. He hemmed and hawed some, it was rather awkward for a bit, and concluded with him letting me know he was there for me if I have any questions or find myself in a situation.
In this passage, it’s King Solomon having the talk with his sons. We’re not really told when or where it happened. He may have been sitting on his throne and summoned his boys together. Maybe they were out in the palace garden under a shade tree. It could have been at bedtime as he tucked them in for the night. It may have even been on his deathbed when he brought the boys in to have this talk.
I can picture King Solomon telling his boys to listen up, give me your full attention, if you’ve heard nothing else I’ve ever taught you, make sure you remember this. Hear me now and hold on to these words because they give life and healing. If he was having this talk today, he’s probably lead off with, “Set your phone down, put your tablet to the side, turn off the radio and TV, keep your eyes on me, and listen to what I have to say.”
What was so important that King Solomon stressed the life-giving nature of his words? He tells his sons, and by extension as he wrote these words down, he tells us to guard our hearts. Read Proverbs 4:23 again.
Michael Hyatt, church leadership coach, wrote in his blog three reasons to guard your heart:
1. Your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. Every Thursday, I make sure my garbage can is set out on the curb to be emptied out. I don’t worry about it until I notice that it’s empty. I don’t watch to make sure no one messes with it. Why? Because it’s garbage, it’s rubbish, it’s trash. But your heart is the very essence of who you are, the core of your being, where you hold your dreams, desires, and passions.
2. Your heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon says the springs of life flow from the heart. If you plug a spring, the water stops. If you poison the spring, the water becomes toxic. Not only is the spring impacted, but all of life downstream is affected. It’s the same way with your heart. If your heart’s not healthy, it impacts everything around you- your family, friends, ministry, career, even your legacy.
3. Your heart is under constant attack. King Solomon tells us to guard our hearts because we’re in the middle of a combat zone. Our enemy is bent on our destruction, not only opposed to God, but anything aligned with him, including us. That’s why when Paul told us to put on the armor of God, he included the breastplate of righteousness. Ephesians 6:14
It is essential that we guard our hearts, but how?
King Solomon begins by telling us to watch our mouths. Read Proverbs 4:24 again. Jesus says it this way. Read Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:18. The things we speak from our mouth reveal what’s in our heart. Read James 3:10-11. If we are praising God as we do when we gather on Sunday mornings, we shouldn’t be cursing those who were made in His image during the rest of the week. Read Ephesians 4:29. When we have a problem with someone, rather than tearing them down, find a way to build them up. Sometimes that’s constructive criticism, sometimes it means choosing to say nothing. If we want to guard our hearts, we need to watch our mouths.
The next thing King Solomon tells us is to protect our eyes. Read Proverbs 4:25 again. Jesus describes the eyes as the lamp of the body. Read Matthew 6:22-23. What is the significance of this? You take in the sights through your eyes. Where’s your focus, are you looking to things that bring in the light of God or are you filling your heart with darkness. Too many of us have fooled ourselves into thinking we can hide the darkness we’re taking in because of the easy access that’s out there through today’s technology. But God has a way of bringing those things to light. Back in my Bible college days, I remember a couple students decided they were going to spend a Friday night in the next town at a gentlemen’s club. At the end of their evening, they went out to the parking lot to discover that the car wouldn’t start. Being students from out of state, they had to call the Bible college to get help getting back to campus and everyone on campus knew what they had done.