Profound Proverb

I believe one of the most profound Proverbs in all of life just might be the one found in the Book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Old Testament.  I am referring to Proverbs 4:23:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

 Now what exactly does the writer mean by this proverb?  The first part is probably the easier one to understand.  We are to keep (guard) our heart with all diligence (determination, devotion, sincerity).  In other words, put much effort in making sure our heart stays sound and strong.  Now one might think that this is a reference to a person’s actual heart.  Surely an argument could be made for the importance of keeping one’s physical heart in good shape. Doctors are consistently warning their patients about heart disease caused by lack of exercise, poor diets, and overall neglect.  Once the heart has been damaged, there are consequences that last the rest of the person’s life.  So, keeping one’s heart strong is certainly a good thing.  However, I believe he is actually talking about our spiritual heart.  We need to guard our spiritual heart because it too is the central component of one’s life.

We often say things such as, “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Is your heart broken?” or “Do you feel the pressure in your heart?”  It is our heart that is key in our entire journey of the Christian faith.  No wonder we are told to guard our hearts.

And that leads to the second part of the proverb: “for out of it [the heart], are the issues of life.”  The importance of the heart is often discussed in Scripture.  Jesus said that we are to love God with all our heart (Matthew 22:37).  Paul said to believe with our heart (Romans 10:10).  And Peter says that we are to sanctify the Lord in our hearts (I Peter 3:15).  Of course these are just a few of the many Scriptures which discuss the importance of the heart.

Yet many believers care more for their physical heart than their spiritual heart.  They are faithfully working out, running, jogging, biking, swimming, etc., because they don’t want to have a heart attack and die or become debilitated.  But, do we put anywhere near the same effort into strengthening our spiritual heart?  If out of it are the issues of life, do we really want to be lazy and haphazard about our spiritual heart?

Here are few suggestions for keeping your spiritual heart with all diligence.  One, be sure to study God’s Word on a daily basis.  Not just a general jog through the Scriptures, but a healthy diet of meat and vegetables, which is digging into the depths of God’s Word.  Second, be sure to be a man or woman of prayer.  This strengthens all the spiritual muscles and causes one to be a more complete runner in the race of life.  Finally, be sure to keep company with other keepers of the heart.  The club (called church) is necessary for building correct relationships; those club members will exhort you on the way to a spiritually fit heart.

A heart attack can be fatal.  May God help us to stay in great shape both physically and spiritually so we may run the race well, all the way to the finish line.  Finish well.