Wednesday, January 4, 2012

One Minute Devotion: Proverbs 4:23 & 24

Proverbs 4:23 & 24

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a deceitful mouth and perverse lips put far from thee.

This is a difficult passage from any perspective, a tall order to fill. To understand it one has to know what the word heart means in this context. There is no seperate word for heart and mind in the Hebrew language, so they are perceived as one and the same. The idea of the heart is often referenced as the literal seat of intellect. It represents man as a whole; mind, soul, intelligence, and being. Although we disagree on many points of doctrine, Jerry Falwell has incredible clarity when he writes, "The key to the whole man is his mind, whatever captures the mind, captures the man." A powerful statement. So how does one, keep their heart, mind, soul, essence, entirety with all diligence? Let me pose the solution through a second question.  If you need to know someone or something definitively what does one do? We research it. We Google it, use Wilkpedia (with much discretion), Bing it, cross reference it, and exhaust every resource. I remember, recently, spending several hours trying to recall a song that stuck in my mind by The Outfield. An obvious example of time well spent. I was totally diligent in my quest. After all, I had the vastness of the internet at my disposal. To know God intimately, His Word and prayer are required. I know it sounds so basic it borders on ridiculous, but it is absolute truth. His word contains pure, inspired, irrefutable truth about God's utlimate plan for our lives. Prayer provides the mind frame, the spirit frame, to digest the Word properly. Prayer focused uniterreputed, desperate, and submissive. A total dependence on God's providence and wisdom. Continuous, unconditional seeking of what He wants us to know and how He wants us to live. It is the literal casting of our cares and needs upon Him.  To let go and allow God to work without our own personal resistance. The Word is the lamp and prayer is the oil. It is complete obedience, which in our entitled little worlds is difficult to accept. To keep our hearts diligent to God means that we trust in His word and his sovereignty alone. There is an intriguing aspect to the first part of this verse, "for out of it are the issues of life." What does that mean? The heart is the source of life, not just in the anatomical sense, but in the spiritual. Every good and bad facet of our lives emanates from the "heart" choices we make. We are drawn away and enticed by the lusts of our heart. Seek to serve God with all of our heart. Chose the ones we are in relationship with based on the pull of our heart. It is where love begins and ends and where hate and anger ferment. It is where we keep our dreams, goals, agendas, and secrets. The heart is the engine that drives every journey of our existence. It is where, how, and why we start and finish. It is the loom from which we weave the tapestry of our legacy. Is it any wonder why God directs us to keep it with diligence. In fact in many translations the word "keep" is replaced by guard or defend. To guard or defend the source of your life with all diligence. Have you ever considered it from that perspective? The rest of the verse is obvious and yet its principles are far from easy. "To put away," does not mean to store, conceal, or fold neatly until later use. It means wholly and utterly dispose. To cast out from our very existence, cease immediately. Deceit does not just cover lies we tell to others, but to ourselves. A lie isn't just the anitphasis of the truth it voids it. You can not serve lies and truth at the same time it would be as useless as freezing a flame or drying yourself off with a bucket of water. A contemporary list of what deceit includes is; gossip, hypocrisy, racism, lust, and envy. How? Everyone one of those items involve a way we lie against the creator, His principles, our course to a deeper relationship with Christ and others, and spiritual growth. The word perverse in this context does not just apply to sexual deviance but to anything we say that works against our testimony in Christ. Words carry weight, what we say create points of historical record. Once spoken they can not be taken back and their ramifications for good or evil have everlasting effects. They can save lives or devastate relationships, teach, rebuke, ostrasize, comfort, depress, hurt, and destroy. Our source of life, must be guarded, because what comes forth from it, has an undeniable influence on everything around us. It has that much power. Even when we realize its potency we ignore its assistance or damage. It is how we spread the gospel or tear down or witness. God wants us to defend our heart and the words that flow from it because He understands, even when we do not, both the cost and blessing. To serve God with the diligence required and master what proceeds from our hearts are life long processes.  What is your current heart condition? What pours forth from your well spring, is it words of life? How do protect the most precious possession God has given you? God bless.

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