The Issues of Life
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Theologians say that, in the Bible, the word heart means “the seat of reflection,” where we analyze every motive, every relationship, and every action in our lives. The heart, then, is like a lens that enables us to look at life either clearly or with distortions. This lens is so important that Solomon encourages us to protect it at all costs because our perceptions affect every aspect of our lives.
What’s in our hearts? Even for the most mature, we’d have to say it’s a mixed bag. We want to have pure motives,but if we’re honest, we admit that some of our attitudes are pretty selfish. We want to have impeccable integrity, but we realize we’ve exaggerated the truth more than once to make ourselves look a little better. The first step in keeping ur hearts, then, is to be honest about what we find when we look inside.
We have the choice to let our hearts drift along or to focus them on God’s truth, God’s purposes, and God’s ways. To keep our hearts with all diligence means that we long to honor God in all we do, and we treasure love and integrity as we deal with people. We can fill our hearts with these treasures, or we can leave them dry and empty. The choice is ours, but our decisions each day about our hearts will make all the difference in our relationships, our work, and directions in life, our peace of mind, our strength of spirit, and our sense of fulfillment.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jesus said that it was out of our hearts that we speak. In other words what is in our hearts will come out even if we can somehow suppress it for a while. The things that we focus our attention on will eventually find their way into our hearts. They will affect how we formulate opinions, responses, and conduct. Guarding our hearts is critically important for otherwise we will find them becoming hostage to the wiles of the devil and the influences of the world.
Its sad that seemingly we are giving less value to things such as honor and integrity and honesty. Instead we glorify those who can outsmart the system, those who live a lifestyle that is built on image and strength whether or not they are lifestyles that provide good role models. This is the arena that God has placed us to live out a life that glorifies Him by its conduct even when it’s not popular.
It is true that there may be loss, suffering and appearance of being unsuccessful, at least by the worlds standards but the value of peace of mind, feeling good about how you acted under pressure can’t be ignored. Maybe we won’t have all the things that society pushes us to have and maybe we won’t accomplish what everyone want us to, and just maybe we won’t make a great impression because we were unwilling to sell our souls, but in the long run we will find ourselves content with our lives.
When we keep our hearts pure, we learn that life give us satisfaction in simple things. We live to please God and daily He rewards us with blessings, often beyond our wildest dreams. We become trusted people. Our family and friends know that they have nothing to fear from us for our integrity and honesty make us valuable to them.
Each day we have a choice. We can choose to conform to the world and incorporate its means to success or we can choose to conform to the image of Christ and live a different way. Each choice is critical and each choice will move us either toward or away from Christ.
Every relationship operates from the heart and that includes our relationship with God. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with someone who has totally different values. As a matter of fact it’s almost impossible. We know that God is a Being of impeccable integrity and honesty. We know He operates with grace and love and if we’re going to have a deep relationship with Him that reaches its fullest potential, then we too will need to develop some of those characteristics so that we have a connection. The beautiful thing about our relationship with God is that the more we hang out with Him the more those characteristics will begin to appear in us. It’s worth the effort to develop those characteristics for they will also affect all our other relationships.
No one besides us and God can truly know our hearts and even we sometimes may not truly know it. King David recognized that sometimes our hearts, our best intentions can lead us astray so he penned the words of Psalm 139:
“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me. Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it. Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
What a friend we have in Jesus who knows us intimately and loves us so much that He would reveal our hearts to us, develop integrity and honesty in us, and lead us in the path of righteousness every day. When we walk with the Lord and follow His ways, we discover the abundant life.
Dr. John Thompson