As we begin our week, my challenge to you, and most of all to myself, is to diligently focus on what Proverbs 4:23-27 has to say about our hearts; verse 23 begins by saying:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it!”
Even though the heart is one of the Bible’s most dominant themes, there is much confusion about the term. When God talks about the heart, He is referring to our spirit, soul, mind, will, and our emotions. Your heart is all about you as the inner person, what controls your being and the essential core of who you are . . . the real you! This would be all-inclusive to say that everything that we think, the motives and choices behind what we say, and everything that we do on a moment-by-moment basis, all come from our hearts.
In dissecting Proverbs 4:24-27, you will see that there are four points that King David is making in what it means to guard our hearts: (1) keeping our mouth free of perversity, (2) making sure that our eyes look straight ahead, (3) give careful thought to the paths for our feet in being steadfast in all of our ways, (4) And last, but not least, it gives us a grave warning to not turn to the right or the left--keeping our feet from evil. Wow! This certainly just about covers everything that would keep us from grieving the Holy Spirit and sinning against our Lord Jesus, doesn’t it?
Let’s now turn our focus to Luke 6:43-45. In Christ’s metaphor, fruit = our behavior. The particular fruit (behavior) this passage discusses is about every word that proceeds from our mouth. And we know what James 3 says about “taming the tongue!” Jesus says that our words are literally our heart overflowing. Here’s a quote by author Paul David Tripp:
People and situations don’t make us say what we say, though we tend to blame them. (“He/She made me so angry!” “If you had been there, you would have said the same thing!” “These kids simply make me crazy!”) Rather, this passage says that our words are controlled by our heart. A tree produces fruit, and our heart produces all of our behavior. We recognize a tree by the fruit it produces, and, in the same way, we know the Bible says people are known by their fruit!
Only when God has our heart does He have you and me. As much as we are affected by our broken world and the sins of others against us, our greatest problem is the sin that resides in our hearts. That is why the message of the gospel is that God transforms our lives by transforming our hearts. Lasting change, my sisters in Christ, always comes through the heart. This is one of scripture’s most thoroughly developed themes, but many of us, as believers, have missed its profound implications. Our desperate and continued prayer needs to be, as David’s was: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
May I leave you with two final and convicting words from God . . . you can put your name in the blank:
“(your name here)’s heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? The Lord searches her heart and examines her mind, to reward her according to her conduct, according to what her deeds deserve!” Jeremiah 17:9-10
“Let us examine our ways and test them . . . .” Lamentation 3:40a
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