Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

The Bible makes it clear that the heart of the matter is the heart of man. Because of the fall, our hearts were plunged into ruin and misery. The prophet declares that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9). Jesus rebukes the religious leaders of his day by telling them that their lives are an outward show of religion and worship, but their hearts are far from the true and living God. The commands of God teach us that we are to love the Lord our God with our whole heart. Without question, the heart of the matter is the heart of man. Stony as they are, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ turns the hardest of hearts to flesh and works life from death; good from misery; holiness from sinfulness. Is it any wonder that Solomon counsels his son (and us) to “keep your heart.” Solomon is teaching us that we must be about the business of guarding our hearts against those influences that will move us down the wrong road leading to destruction. We are to erect a sentry over our heart and protect it, always seeking to move it towards the things of the Lord. If every issue and every matter is ultimately tied to the heart of man, then it seems logical and reasonable that we spend more time thinking about our hearts and how they are influenced by good and evil. Consider the numerous outside influences that come to us: entertainment, conversation, reading material, things we witness in the public square — all of these things will impact our heart for good or evil. Consider the things that we allow our minds to dwell upon day after day.

The apostle Paul tells us to consider those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Yet, we often allow our minds to dwell on the very opposite of this instruction. We focus on things that are false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, and ugly. We see it all the time in the news, the programs we watch, the internet sites we visit, the conversations we have on social media and in-person. We hear it when we listen to talk radio or music. Indeed, many things are competing for our hearts. In light of Solomon’s instruction, the question that must be answered is this: How are you guarding your heart? To fail to protect our heart actively leaves us prey to the efforts of the evil one. He knows well that if he can win your heart through corruption and deceit, he will win your whole life. We pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one.” We should pray that all the time. Yet, too often, we pray it, forget it, and then run headlong into matters and issues that will tempt us to sin because those things wound our hearts. My friends, each of us must seriously consider those ways in which we have compromised and lived too loosely when it comes to our hearts. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we are somehow immune to these matters. As we consider those ways, we must make the necessary adjustments and, perhaps, confess them before the Lord, asking that he cleanse our hearts and restore us to those things that are pleasing in his sight. Our hearts are not made of titanium. All sorts of things easily influence it. Therefore, erect a sentry over your heart. We must watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. We must be diligent because the gateway of all transgression flows right through our hearts.

Meditate on these things.

Prayer: “Father, your Word is clear — the heart of the issue is our heart. We are thankful that you have given us a new heart, but we know that we often wrestle with our flesh and those sins that so easily entangle us. We confess that we have not given adequate thought to these matters and have, at times, allowed our hearts to stray from what is pure, just, honorable, and holy. Forgive us. Please help us be more careful, watching and praying and guarding our hearts against the influence of the evil one and the world. Please be merciful to us in our failures and cleanse us afresh we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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