Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Step Off The Path

In yesterday’ blog entry we summarized what it means to “guard our heart.” We ended by looking at Proverbs 4:27 which tells us not to turn to the right or to the left. In other words, guarding our heart is not about making sure we don’t go too far off the path of righteousness, it is making sure that we do not go off of the path at all. For example:

I don’t embezzle money from my workplace, but do I ever put a stamp bought with company money on a personal letter?

I don’t murder people, but is there still an individual that I have animosity towards and who I refuse to forgive?

I don’t publicly refuse to submit to the authority of our government, but do I drive over the maximum speed limit on the roads?

I remember shortly after sharing about “guarding your heart” in the church where I was on staff in Ohio, helping a friend move. They were just going across town. Actually, they hired professional movers and all Joe and I did was sip lemonade and watch them carry out all of the heavy furniture and boxes. However, there was not enough room in their truck for everything. As a result, Joe and I went down and rented a U-Haul. We loaded up what was left and took it to the new house across town.

We then went to return the truck. Joe mentioned that he needed to pull into a gas station to top off the tank as was required. I quickly suggested that the gauge still read full and that Joe could probably get away with taking the truck back and if they ask if he fueled it up he could say, “The gauge reads full” (great pastoral advice huh)? Joe nodded in agreement and started through the intersection where the gas stations were. Suddenly, he abruptly whipped the truck into one of the stations.

What are you doing?” I yelled.

He looked at me with a smile and simply said, “Guarding my heart!”

I wanted to hit him! He was right, but I still wanted to hit him. The truth is that it is not how far off the path we go that should be our concern. Our objective must always be to not go off the path at all.

In Bill Hybels’ classic book, Honest to God, he tells of a town that had a huge oak tree in the middle of its town square. It was the proud symbol of strength for that community. One day a strong wind caused the tree to topple revealing a trunk filled with disease. That which was such an outward symbol of strength on the outside had been very weak and vulnerable on the inside. Such is the case with Christians who do not guard their heart in the little things. We may look strong on the outside, but inside our heart is weak.

No comments: