Monday, May 07, 2007

Guarding Your Heart

Last Sunday I preached a message here at Grace Church called, “Guarding Your Heart” from Proverbs 4:0-27. I have now preached this sermon in all three of the churches in which I have served on the pastoral staff. This may be one of my favorite sermons because it so speaks to my own heart.

In Proverbs 4:20-27, we see our need to receive these wise instructions with our whole person. We are to receive them with our ears (v20); with our eyes (v21); and with our body (v22). This is vital because they will be life to those that find them and health to the whole body. In other words they produce a total life that is well worth living.

As a result, we must make it a priority to guard our heart (v23). This is not speaking of the blood pumping organ in our chest. This is describing our whole being…the center of the mind, emotion and will. F.F. Bruce says that it is the center of our personality, decision and understanding. The Greek Septuagint (the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language) uses the word for heart meaning “mind” or “judgment.” Your heart is the place where decisions are born, where character is formed, and where actions take root. Scripture has much to say about the heart. It is what comes out of the heart that defiles man (Mark 15:18-20). The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). David asked God to create a new heart within him (Psalm 51:10).

The wise man says that we are to “watch over” our hearts. The King James Version says to “keep” our heart. The New International Version says to “guard” your heart. It literally means to “preserve” something and it is written in the form of a command. And we are to do this “with all diligence.” The New International Version says “above all else.” It is the concept of guarding something in prison. It is the idea of closely observing or protecting something. And we are to do this because it is the source of something that is vital. It is the source of where we receive direction for living. Your heart is the place where God speaks to you through His Word and through His Spirit. As a result, we are to guard our hearts. How do we do this?

First, don’t be DISHONEST (v24). Evil speech is a sure indicator of an evil heart.

Second, don’t be DISTRACTED (v25). The New International Version says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” Temptation often comes via the eyes (1 John 2:15-16; Genesis 3:6). The perceptive person looks straight ahead, keeping their eyes on wisdom and on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Third, don’t be DANGEROUS (v26). Watch the path of your feet. In other words, make level paths for your feet. As a result, all your ways will be established.

Finally, don’t be DECEIVED (v27). Do not turn to the right or to the left. Folks, listen, the issue is not how far off the path you go, but to not go off the path at all. Guards up!

No comments: