Proverbs 4:23. Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
What is the most important thing we can do in life? Above all, what must we do each day in order to thrive? Wisdom’s answer is keep your heart.
Your heart is the deepest part of you. The real you. In Hebrew thinking it was the command center of life. All thoughts, choices, and emotions originated and were determined by the heart. Your heart is your desires. Your affections. Your motivations and outlook on life. We do nothing apart from our hearts. This is why the most important thing you can do today is keep (guard, protect) your heart. All of life springs from your heart. Everything you say, do, think, and feel begins with your heart’s perception of life and God.
But here’s the problem: not a single one of us can guard our hearts. In our natural state, our hearts are actually a disaster waiting to happen. Moses said the heart needs to be circumcised. The prophet Jeremiah called the heart desperately wicked. Proverbs goes on to say that no one can cleanse their own heart. And Jesus said that all sin flows from our hearts.
In Proverbs the solution to our evil hearts is wisdom. Hearing wisdom, collecting wisdom, writing it on your heart so as to overcome the evil in the heart.
Proverbs 3:3. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs 7:1-3. My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Proverbs presents the heart as a battleground between good and evil, wisdom and foolishness. Which will win? Which will rule your heart today? The heart devoid of God’s wisdom will become fearful, lustful, greedy, insecure, and discontented. And such a heart will slowly waste the precious gift of life and destroy loving relationships with others. So you must protect your heart with all vigilance. Keep out the evil desires that would lead to destruction. And rather receive the good wisdom of God. And write it on your heart.
But Proverbs does not offer us the final answer to our heart’s problem. It rightly diagnoses the problem, never telling us to “follow our heart,” but rather to protect our heart from sin and foolishness. But it also leaves the solution in our own hands. How can any of us protect our own hearts when our own hearts are our greatest problem?
What we need is a Savior. We need the One who will keep our hearts with all his vigilance. The One who will bring forth in us a spring of living water that never, ever runs dry. The One whose steadfast love and faithfulness has been written on our hearts for us by the blood of his New Covenant.
Romans 5:5. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
What will guard our lives through the perils of this life and into the next? The NEW HEART. The heart of Jesus himself. His desires. His affections. His perceptions. His motivations. Now supernaturally written into our hearts through our union with Christ. His faith in God that would take him into death. His overflowing spring of resurrection life that changes what naturally flows out of us. His love flowing out in our love. His kindness in our kindness. His patience in our patience. His peace in our peace.
Yes, like Proverbs says, we must continue to keep our heart with all vigilance. But now we can keep our heart by knowing that our heart is kept. Protected by the indestructible life of Christ. How do we keep our hearts? By trusting that Jesus is keeping our hearts by his grace. How do we transform the streams that naturally flow out of us? By receiving the living water of Christ’s love that has been poured into us.
“To live is Christ” means that your heart is protected. It is being kept with all the vigilance of the Trinity. Now you can keep your heart with all the vigilance of the life of Christ inside of you. And you can let the streams of his love and grace pour out from the well of life that has been poured into you.
What naturally flows out of your heart? Can you tell?
You in Christ
How does being in Christ change how you “protect your heart?” Is it faith in God’s protection or is it self-protection?
Christ in you
How can the streams of Christ’s life flow out of you today?