heart

Guard the heart

The Wise man declared “Each heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10). He added, “Even in laughter the heart may ache” (14:13). He pleaded, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Webster’s Dictionary defines “Heart” as:

  1. “A hollow pump-like organ of blood circulation, composed mainly of rhythmically contractile smooth muscle, located in the chest …”
  2. The center of the total personality – especially with reference to intuition, feeling or emotion. The capacity for feeling, compassion or affection. Spirit or courage to face a task.”

Just think of the ways we use this word in a symbolic way:

  • “Although their team was not talented, they overcame it with great heart” (actually, they had about as many hearts as the other team – one each!)
  • “The action in the movie was heart-stopping” (Did the cinema management have defibrillators on hand for those whose hearts actually stopped?)
  • “When she saw the orphans, her heart went out to them” (but not her arms, or the rest of her body?).
  • When Sarah turned Mike down for a date, she broke his heart” (Which is another great reminder that you shouldn’t play with hearts while standing on a hard surface like concrete or wood where it might fall and break).

In everyday language we use the term “heart” to refer to much more than the blood-pumping muscle in our chest. It stands for our convictions, determination, and compassion.

When Proverbs calls on us to guard our hearts, it suggests that all our actions are determined first by the attitude of our heart! If our worship is hypocritical, if we don’t mean the words we say, it is probably because first our hearts were cold and indifferent. If our actions are spiteful and unkind toward others, it is probably because our hearts first harbored resentment towards those people. If our actions result in harm or division in the church, it is probably because our hearts first were proud and we had a “me first” mentality!

How to solve this problem? The answer lies in the heart! Sweeten our attitudes, purify our thoughts, discipline our instincts. If your thoughts are loving, generally your actions will be, too. If your heart is dedicated to the Lord, your submissive obedience will follow suit.

Is it time for some heart surgery?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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