We are coming to the closing verses of Proverbs 4 in our yearlong study of the Book of Proverbs. Solomon has admonished his son concerning the way and path of evil men (4:14-19) and pled with him to hear and heed his father’s instructions (4:20-22). Our devotional study today challenges us to grow up and take responsibility for our lives and life choices. “Be Morally on Your Guard” is my theme for the concluding verses in Proverbs 4.
Proverbs 4:23-27 – “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Solomon states four areas of life for which a man must assume individual responsibility: His Heart, Mouth, Eyes and Path.
Being a “Victim” has become a crutch on which many in our society now lean. I am not unsympathetic to the reality that some have suffered personal injury, hardships and heartache because of the negative actions or inactions of others. There are too many whose lives are scarred by abuse, personal attacks, neglect and trauma. However, the reality is we could all claim to be victims of another’s negative actions in some form.
The challenge you face is to determine whether or not you are going to live under the shadow of victimhood. Are you going to waste your life being a victim and reject responsibility for personal choices? Are you going to allow opportunities to slip away because you are living in the past and unwilling to assert individual responsibility for your life choices?
Where does this assertion of personal responsibility begin? Proverbs 4:23 is one of the greatest challenges we find in the Book of Proverbs because it begins with the seat of all thoughts and emotions—the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep [guard; set a watch] thy heart [mind and thoughts] with all diligence [guard standing at his post]; for out of it [heart] are the issues of life.”
Why the heart? The heart is the source, root and cause of every thought, word, action and emotion.
I hear some counsel, and read the counsel of others on Facebook, who tell a friend, “trust your heart”; or “go with your heart”. Really? Is that a spiritual response to addressing a problem or trial? The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Spiritual counsel does not tell a man to “trust his heart”. Godly counsel directs a man to trust in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:7); “lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Solomon does not counsel his son to “trust his heart” or “follow his heart”. Just the opposite; Solomon exhorts his son to “Keep thy heart with all diligence” (4:23a). Literally, guard your heart; set a vigilant watch before your heart; stand guard at your heart’s door like a sentry at his post. Guard every thought that enters. Examine every emotion that emerges from your heart.
Too many of us sit mindlessly in front of a television and, like a sponge, soak into our hearts the world’s values and counsel (Psalm 101:3). We associate with friends who are not spiritually minded and allow their values to shape our thoughts (1 Corinthians 15:33). Some go to school, work and church and fail to filter the philosophies they hear through the Word of God.
Returning to the Book of Jeremiah we read: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).
David called upon the Lord and prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
The Heart— is at the core of every word, thought, emotion and action. Take time to ponder the thoughts of your heart; allow the Word of God to work in your heart. Take a few minutes everyday to be still…turn off the television and radio; silence your phone; stop texting and posting for a few minutes…and allow the Lord to search out your heart. In the words of the late Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr:
“Give God your heart and He will comb the kinks out of your head.”
Copyright 2014 – Travis D. Smith