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Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. 
Proverbs 4:23

Ever since someone hacked into my email and threw around my personal information on the internet, I have become more on guard and security conscious. It isn’t just my email and computer that I am careful about, but also someone breaking into our home and cars, fiddling with our credit cards, or making off with social security numbers and personal identities. I am more likely now to go back a second time to check the door, or pat my pocket to see that my wallet is there.

But today’s Scripture text calls for the greatest vigilance and security consciousness to be in keeping and guarding our hearts. If we guard our homes from burglary, our identities from thievery, and personal accounts from plunder, but fail to be vigilant in this one area, it will affect every area of our lives. Yet how much thought do we give to “keeping our hearts”?

The first line of our text in the original Hebrew is literally, “above all your keeping, keep your heart”. That is, more than you guard anything, guard your heart. More than you are vigilant in guarding your home and finances, you must keep and guard your heart.

When the Bible talks about the heart it is talking about your innermost being. It’s what you are deep inside. The heart is symbolic for the innermost spiritual dimensions of a person. It represents your thought life, your values, and ambitions. That is why the Lord reminds that He “looks on the heart” rather than outward appearance (I Samuel 16:7). He sees the heart as the “master control” of all our actions and words. The health of our “heart” affects everything else in our lives.

Thus the Wise Man of Proverbs urgently warns of the need to guard your heart. The Lord Jesus echoed this need for us to guard the heart:

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. (Mark 7:21-23)

A wrong heart, Jesus warned, always produces a wrong life. We never commit any of these outward actions without first committing them in our hearts. There is no foolish action or evil word which does not first flow through the heart. What we think and meditate on is critical. What we read is critical. What we watch on television is critical. Out of all this, “flow the springs of life”.

Springs were a precious resource to the people in Bible lands. They lived in a parched desert region where every spring was carefully guarded and kept. Thus, “a spring shut up, a fountain sealed” (Song of Solomon 4:12) was a symbol for that which was to be jealously guarded and kept. To allow a spring to be polluted was to pollute everything flowing from it.

More than we guard anything, then, we must guard our hearts! It is from out of our hearts that “flow the springs of life.” The old acronym used by computer programmers sums up the thrust of today’s passage: GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. What goes on in our hearts becomes the literal programming of our lives. How might our daily intake from God’s Word compare with our daily intake of the world’s media?

Two men may face the same conditions; one falls, the other stands.
The difference is not in the temptation but in the heart of the man.

Grace and peace,

photo by elod beregszaszi

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