matters of the heart

The heart affects everything

Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.

Proverbs 4:23 

Let us learn to cast our hearts into God.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Guard the inside

If you’re typical, you think of guarding your heart in terms of keeping things out. Corruption, false ideas, temptations—all are to be held at arm’s length, never to be allowed in the inner depths of your affections. But there’s another side to this vigilance. We are to keep things in. In fact, if we can master that, the corruptions and temptations will often take care of themselves.

Think about it: The things that can assail a heart from the outside are innumerable, far too overwhelming to manage. But the things we are told to keep within—the spirit of Jesus, the humility and gentleness, the servanthood and sacrifice, the worship and thankfulness—these are one Spirit. Most religions tell us to avoid the bad; God tells us to embrace Him. We are better equipped to focus on His character than on the enemy’s devices. Nowhere are we told to live against the sinful nature and hope that the Spirit will show up. We’re told to live by the Spirit and expect the sinful nature to have no power. We often get confused about that.

Too many Christians guard the way into their hearts to keep things out. That may be appropriate at times, but try a different approach. Guard the way out. Stand at the inside of the gate, and be careful about what may be leaving. Once in a while, we get a life-altering glimpse of true worship. By all means, keep it in! From time to time, we’ll see a picture of true servanthood. Don’t let that picture go! Hold on to these things! Treasuring the wellspring that God has birthed in your heart will leave little rom for those corruptions you once obsessed over. And the wellspring is a much more pleasant preoccupation.

Adapted from The One Year® Walk with God Devotional by Chris Tiegreen, Tyndale House Publishers (2004), entry for May 10.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

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