Keeping Our Hearts (1)
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Proverbs 4:23-27: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
The heart is one of the most important parts of the body. It pumps the blood which supplies the rest of our bodies with the oxygen we need to survive. When the heart stops beating, it does not take long for the rest of the body to begin to suffer terrible effects. Damage to the heart is often serious or fatal. Many doctors and hospitals study heart disease, and seek new treatments and medicines for the heart because of how many people would benefit. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in our nation.
Because of its importance to our physical life, in the Bible the heart pictures what is most important to us. It contains the inner most reason for doing the things we do. What is important to us, what is in our hearts, will determine how we live.
The heart is the place of a spiritual battle. In Bible times, important cities were surrounded by walls. Along the walls there were special places where the walls were higher or thicker than the rest of the wall. These were places where the soldiers of the city would fight against an enemy who was trying to capture their city. Often, there was one very tall tower called a citadel. When it seemed the enemy was about to win the battle, the people of the city would flee to the citadel. It was the last place they could use to try to be safe from the enemy and try to fight. If the enemy captured the citadel, the battle was over. That is why some of the most desperate fighting took place at the citadel.
Satan would like to live in our hearts. If he can be in our hearts, we will live for him by living for our own pleasure. We will join the world in the sinful things the wicked do because it would be so fun. That is why Solomon tells us to keep our hearts. If our spiritual enemy can capture our hearts, there will not be any true life there.
We read about Jeroboam. Israel rebelled against the house of David. Ten of the tribes did not want Rehoboam to be their king. They wanted Jeroboam to be their leader. Being the king is a pretty nice job. A king can make a lot of money and get a lot of attention. It was a job that Jeroboam wanted to keep.
He had a problem though. The people were supposed to worship God at Jerusalem. Jeroboam know that when the people went there, they would realize that what they had done was wrong, remove Jeroboam from being king and return to Judah. Jeroboam showed what was in his heart. Israel should have repented for their rebellion. They should follow the sons of David as their kings and serve God in Jerusalem. However, Jeroboam loved the things of this world more than doing what was right in God’s eyes. He wanted to be king, no matter what. He had idols built so the people would not return to Jerusalem. From then on, he is known in the Bible as, “Jeroboam who made Israel to sin.” What was in his heart showed itself in how he lived his life.
Because of the importance of the heart, we are told to keep it with all diligence. To be diligent means that we do something all the time. There is not a time when we can take a vacation from the spiritual battle for our hearts. We cannot give our hearts over to the enemy for a time figuring that we can recapture it later.
During Bible times, cities always had watchmen on duty. These men would stand on the top of the city wall and watch, constantly for the enemy. If the enemy were spotted, they would blow on trumpets as an alarm for the people to prepare for battle. A watchman who slept on the job, did not recognize the enemy or did not sound the alarm on time would not be thought of very highly by his fellow citizens.
We must be diligent also. It does not matter where we are. It does not matter how old we are. We must always be on the lookout for the temptations of Satan. He will always be busy trying to move into our hearts. Satan knows how to fight, too. He can tell when we are growing weary of the battle. He will not then give us a break to keep the fight fair. He also knows what our weaknesses are.
Over my many years of teaching, I have witnessed some aggressive play on the playground. Usually, you students try to make your teams fair. It makes the competition more interesting and challenging. Ninth graders would not have much interest or find much challenge in taking on the kindergartners in football. Satan is not like that. He is not interested in fighting fair or enjoying a challenge. He just wants to win, at any cost. Especially if that cost is yours. He will attack you when you are tired. He will attack you at your weakest point. This is why we must keep our heart with ALL diligence.
We have been reminded of the importance of the heart. From it are the issues of life. Because it is so important, we are to keep it with all diligence. Now the question is, can we do this?
We must confess that we are not able to keep our hearts from being taken by our spiritual enemy. Keeping our hearts is God’s work. Philippians 2:13 tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Jude 24 says, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ...” We are not able to keep Satan from our hearts by our own efforts.
to be continued ...