Scripture: Proverbs 4:23, ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.’
Observations: Unlike most proverbs which are completely unrelated to the surrounding verses, the verses in the first 9 chapters are part of larger discourses. This section (4:1-27) is all about how important wisdom is. In just the previous verse the father’s words are a source of life (v22), and in the following verses the son is warned against perverse and corrupt words (v24) and keeping from the path of evil (v25-27). In the middle of all this is the command ‘guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.’ The ‘heart’ refers to the inner core of our personality. It includes our minds, our emotions, and our will. This proverbs reinforces the biblical idea that what really matters is not just our behaviour but our thoughts and attitudes as well. True life results from a spiritual vitality that comes from within us. This is what Jesus was referring to when he said things like ‘the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (Jn 4:14)’ and ‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (Jn 7:38)’ The best way to guard our heart is to receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 7:39) and to keep in step with the Spirit, or live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16-25).
Application: Firstly, have you submitted yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit? The only way to receive the Holy Spirit is through faith in Jesus Christ. Secondly, are you living, or keeping in step with the Spirit? That means allowing the Spirit to confirm you to God’s will. Which according to our passage this morning means listening to God’s word, watching our own words, and avoiding sin. While the Spirit changes our hearts we also have a responsibility to not harden our hearts, or fill our hearts with sinful influences. How well are you guarding your heart?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ that You have given me Your Holy Spirit and that He lives in my heart. But Lord, I confess that I do not always live according to Your Spirit, that I do not guard my heart from sinful influences that affect my thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. Lord, help me to guard my heart and listen to Your Spirit. Help me to fill me mind with Your words, so that I may speak as You speak, think as You think, and act as You act. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.