The Bible is a book of wisdom that God uses to show us how to live our lives. In it, you and I will find the book of Proverbs which shows you and me the right way to deal with the various situations in our lives. It shows you and me how to relate, connect and interact with others, whether they are easy to get along with or difficult. Proverbs 4:23 is a rather simple verse but with a profound message that “circles life’s wagons,” guides your heart, helps us to live a victorious life.
Proverbs 4:23-27 NASB
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life. 24 Rid yourself of a deceitful mouth
And keep devious [a]speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your [b]gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 [c]Watch the path of your feet,
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
In our devotion today, we look at the heart, specifically the spiritual heart and five aspects of what a Christian’s heart prayerfully, hopefully, ought to be, a loving, changed, and a heart which makes the difficult decision to follow God.
Today I am going to give you a little taste of a diligent heart as we look at five things I consider to be tantamount to anyone who would come, choose to make their decision to believe in God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, to call themselves Christian, and afterwards, with full conviction in their hearts, live genuine life.
John 14:7-15 NASB
Oneness with the Father
7 If you [a]had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been with [b]you for so long a time, and yet [c]you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own, but the Father, as He remains in Me, does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
We reflect upon the revelation of God. We reflect upon the reputation of God. The first place exposed and effected to such a revelation and reflection is our own hearts – our source of life. As Christians, we are to read and meditate on God’s word so that it can dwell in our hearts. When our heart is full of God’s word, we are storing good things, protecting yourself against false doctrine. Putting a guard in the doorway of your heart is a way of protecting yourself from deception, heartbreak, limiting beliefs which steal the joy from our life.
Proverbs 4:23-27 The Message
23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.
From these verses King Solomon emphasizes “above all else” one is to keep guard over the entrance of their heart. This entrance is the doorway through which things enter and then exits the heart inevitably effecting the whole body.
As the heart goes so does the rest of the body. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly and getting good quality rest betters the chances that plaque build up in the arteries and veins surrounding the muscle of the heart do not become blocked and subject to all manner of cardiovascular insults (MI’s) meaning Myocardial Infarctions or Heart Attacks – our leading cause of death. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
We are to guard our hearts against what comes in and only allow that which edifies, that builds us up versus tear down. What corrupts our hearts is to stay out. Such corruption comes through what we read, watch, text, post, listen to, and do, and sins we commit. If we let in ungodly things, we become ungodly. If we let in godly things, we become more godly. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
We guard our hearts because good and evil find their way into them and come out through our mouths and not through our bowels whence they are flushed.
Rabbi Jesus comes to the point: what comes out of our hearts is what defiles us:
Mark 7:20-22 NASB
20 And He was saying, “That which comes out of the person, that is what defiles the person. 21 For from within, out of the [a]hearts of people, come the evil thoughts, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, acts of adultery, 22 deeds of greed, wickedness, deceit, indecent behavior, [b]envy, slander, [c]pride, and foolishness.
From our collection of verses, Proverbs 4:23-27, Guarding our hearts means;
Being consciously aware of your heart – mindful of its essential role in keeping you and I physically alive. To state the obvious; we are alive as long as it beats. We attend to the matters of life as if the goal of every move we make keeps it so.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Meaning keep our heart and mind intimately in touch with our integrity. Remember the “Golden Rule” does not mean whoever has the gold makes all of the rules and lords their wealth as a means to control and manipulate all others.
The Six Pillars of Character are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
- Be honest in communications and actions.
- Don’t deceive, cheat or steal.
- Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do.
- Have the courage to do the right thing.
- Build a good reputation.
- Be loyal to your values.
- Keep your promises.
- Treat others with respect and follow the Golden Rule.
- Be accepting of differences.
- Use good manners, not bad language.
- Be considerate of the feelings of others.
- Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone.
- Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
- Do what you are supposed to do.
- Plan ahead.
- Be diligent.
- Do your best.
- Use self-control.
- Be self-disciplined.
- Think before you act.
- Be accountable for your words, actions and attitudes.
- Set a good example for others.
- Choose a positive attitude.
- Make healthy choices.
- Play by the rules.
- Take turns and share.
- Be open-minded; listen to others.
- Don’t take advantage of others.
- Don’t blame others carelessly.
- Treat all people fairly.
- Be kind.
- Be compassionate and show you care.
- Show empathy.
- Express gratitude.
- Forgive others and show mercy.
- Help people in need.
- Be charitable and altruistic.
- Do your share to make your home, school, community, and world better.
- Get involved in community affairs.
- Stay informed; vote.
- Be a good neighbor.
- Make choices that protect the safety and rights of others.
- Protect the environment.
What are the character traits of a Christian? Integrity, honesty, responsibility, respect, compassion, love, joy, peace – all must be in total agreement with the teachings of God’s Word. What is a godly character? You will recognize a godly person when you not only see the person, but you see the character of Jesus in them. It is his transforming power that allows us to be compassionate, to love and respect people, respect the presence and power of God, and live holy lives.
Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Recall in His confrontation with the Philistine Goliath, David’s sole focus was to do battle only with Goliath, not to focus on trying to defeat every last Philistine there. His focus was on a single rock hurled with a single sling in the Giant’s direction. To focus his whole self on relying upon the hope and strength GOD provided him and letting that hope and strength from God alone to empower him to victory.
The proof of this singular unidirectional focus effectiveness is Goliath’s death, Israel’s complete victory over their numerically superior Philistine enemies.
Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established.
The real question behind this promise is very simple: How should you and I define success for our “best laid” plans? By what means do we make Paths? Do we or should we always listen to the directions from our MapQuest Apps or our Google map App, or our Garmin’s or our Tom Tom GPS devices in our vehicles?
The answer is very simple as well: bringing glory to God for his grace (see Ephesians 1:6,12,14). Committing our works and plans to God means surrendering them to God’s will (James 4:13-15), trusting that God will be glorified in them (Colossians 3:17), and recognizing that it is not in our power to properly guide our own steps (Proverbs 16:9).
God longs to bless us and empower us — not for our own temporary selfish ambition (James 3:16), but for our eternal good (Romans 8:28) and God’s glory. Like Jesus, when we commit our plans and works to the Lord, we are saying, “Not my will, Father, but yours be done!” (Luke 22:40-46)
Do not turn to the right or to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
When we look at the way of our feet, we need to know not to turn to the right or the left. This is assuming that our feet are on God’s paths and ways and not our own. When we turn to the right or the left, we are making a decision to depart from God’s paths and walk in our own, the world’s ways, or those of the devil. Which ever of these three are true, we will find ourselves in a way that is wrong – and ultimately a way that will hurt and cost us.
The only turn we should make in life is one which leads us far away from evil.
The word “turn” here is a Hebrew word that means to go away from something, to desert it, to quit, to keep far away.
When we see evil we need to remove ourselves from it – depart – honestly – RUN! To hang around evil is to court its greater influence in our lives. When we see evil we should hide ourselves from it. The longer we remain in the presence of evil, more likely we are to participate in it. Thus the wise man runs from evil.
Think about where we are going. It is important to do this – to consider our lives and examine them from time to time. It is too easy to begin to wander from the ways of God – too easy to take a path that leads us away from the Lord.
That is why this passage from Proverb helps us so much – it encourages us to think through where our journey reaches its destination. We think about the beginning of things and the end of things. When we do this – we will see the “big picture” wisdom speaks so eloquently of, of considering God’s Word, of turning away from evil, keeping clear of the its alluring ways. (Proverbs 8)
When I see someone swerving in and out of their lanes of traffic, I immediately go into a defensive driving mode. Whether they are distracted, sleepy, or just “texting or talking on their smart phones” or “putting on lipstick” careless, I know they are dangerous. God wants us all to know the same is true of us when we allow ourselves to wander by and sample every form of temptation available. Let’s just stick to the straight and narrow with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus!
In the name of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit, Let us each now Pray;
Loving God, you’ve taught me to have a heart for you and for my neighbor. Help me to guard the purity of my heart, so that I’m not corrupted by lies or deceived by temptation. I pray that you convict me when I let bad things in my life, so that I keep my heart protected. I want to do your will, Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
Loving Father, I want to guard my heart above all things. Search my heart and know my thoughts and see if there is any wicked way in me and guide me into the path of righteousness, (Psalm 139:23-24) in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.