Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23-24 

23Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Sour grapes

Originally from Aesop’s Fables, a hungry fox saw a bunch of grapes hanging from its vine. The fox salivated and wanted to eat them. The fox jumped as high as it could, but its effort was not enough. After several failed attempts to reach the grapes, the fox walked away and said, “Those grapes were sour anyway, I never really wanted them!”

Have you ever had similar experience when you have so desired something, but you failed to get it for yourself? You were so discouraged, and you stopped pursuing it, and say, “It’s not worth my effort anyway.” Truly, we may be discouraged when we fail to get what we desired. Frustration is even worse when we have so much expectation.

Does God prevent us to get things we want? Do you accept that God had already decreed things that we can get for ourselves in this world? How do you interpret what it says in John 3:27? 27A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

Has God set a destiny for every person, including things he decreed for all of us?

If we pray and ask God to reveal to us his plan and things that he decreed for us to achieve, will he grant it? If you sincerely believe, you may save effort and avoid useless attempts, if you pray for godly wisdom to follow the destiny that God designed specifically for you. It says in Ephesians 2:10, 10We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When it says, “God prepared in advance for us to do,” it pertains particularly to Christians. As Christians, our freedom from slavery of sin had been bought by Christ. Our life as believers of Christ is not our private property anymore. Our life belongs to Christ. God saved us for his mission purposes. Godly wisdom teaches us to trust that his plan is the best and favorably beneficial to us; and, we follow his instruction subsequently.

Personally, how do you practically apply what it declares in Proverbs 16:9? 9In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

We’ve got to pray that God reveals very clearly his will and the practical step we should take. When divine opportunity knocks at the door, it is does not always present itself as we may expect. Normally, divine opportunities challenge our faith in the Lord.

We need inspiration from the Holy Spirit and godly wisdom to decide prayerfully. We must pray for the Lord to help us be careful of our heart’s desire because everything that we desire, decide and incline to do flows from our heart.

1.  Flow

23Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

To guard the heart is real, serious, and vital to anyone. It’s no question that if the heart fails, life ends. Biblically, the heart pertains to our innermost being. It includes our thoughts and desires. Godly wisdom teaches the need to guard our heart always.

Our spiritual heart is our inner self—the part of us where we sense and consider affections, reflections, memories; the part of us where we recall forgotten experiences in the past. When we are attracted to things we consider as important, we are inclined to pursue them; such desire starts from the heart. The spiritual heart initiates resolve of pursuit. The heart sets up determination; then we desire, decide and take necessary practical steps. The spiritual heart is also interpreted as conscience for moral character.

The spiritual heart is the seat of emotion and passion, the part of us that sense joy, gladness and sorrow. When in sorrow for bad situations involving loved ones, we sense the pain emotionally; we need encouragement to take heart and to be strong.

We may overcome painful experience when the Holy Spirit produces fruit of love, joy and peace, in our hearts. How do you personally interpret it when the Lord Jesus encourages us in John 16:33? 33I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Take Heart

It narrated that Jesus was very busy ministering and teaching others. A Jewish synagogue leader came and knelt before him. He pleaded for the life his daughter who just died. He appealed for Christ to save her. It stated in Matthew 9:18-25, 18“My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 

19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” 

 And the woman was healed at that moment. 23When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 

The woman who was sick for 12 years, and Christ told her, “Take heart. Your faith has healed you.” Christ sensed and saw desperation and encouraged her. Certainly, the Jewish leader saw the miraculous healing of the woman. The case of the woman may have been made public. She had already spent all she had, but still no medical doctor was able to cure her sickness. It was very timely encouragement also for the synagogue leader; he may have been desperate also for his daughter, his only child.

As expected, the nosy crowd was not very sympathetic; they assumed that the child of the synagogue leader has died. They laughed when Jesus said that she’s asleep!

Can you easily ignore, accept or even appreciate it when someone laughs at you?

Do you feel humiliated when someone makes fun of you? We cannot control others not to scoff or laugh at failures. We can pray that we may freely speak of the grace of God.

2.  Free

24Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

When it commands us to keep our mouth free of perversity and corrupt talks, our natural tendency is to entertain perversity. Instinctively, we blurt out offensive speech or malicious words. It is just who we are; unknowingly, we resist anything that God says.

But, when we fully depend on Christ as Lord, he guides and inspires us to freely speak of the love and grace of God instead of perverse and misleading speech. When we are conscious of Christ as King of our life, we want to please him; we avoid malicious statements. We choose to fellowship with fellow believers and not comfortable sitting next to corrupt individuals. The Holy Spirit precautions and warns us also of fraudsters.

There will always be deceivers, impostors and swindlers in this world. How can we avoid being deceived? How can we stay away from being victimized by swindlers?

Business Venture

Someone tried to persuade his friend to start a business together. The former was actually bankrupt and wanted his friend to help him recover. Fortunately, the friend was not prepared to settle down in one place; he was not also very sure what he wants to accomplish in life. He was not emotionally and easily persuaded to join the venture.

Dramatic circumstances may affect us; others may take advantage of emotional vulnerability. What do you do during apprehensive, doubtful or suspicious situations?

We pray like Psalm 25:1-5, 1In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. 2I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. 4Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

King David was never an ideal example of perfection. He had his share of failures, and malicious mistakes. Yet when he prioritized the Lord in his heart, he trusted that the Lord allowed situations and events to happen to accomplish his mission purposes.

Making mistakes is not very pleasant experience. Yet by faith, we trust God even when we commit mistakes; we seek his guidance to redirect us to his purposes for us.

Pray to be inspired by his Holy Spirit; he guards our hearts and frees our lips from saying regrettable words. Such experience serves as proof when we testify for Christ.

When the Lord answers our prayer, it adds to our testimony about Christ.

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