Verse of the Day Devotion: Proverbs 4:23
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
When we think of the word ‘heart’ we have several things in mind. First, a muscle in our chest that pumps blood throughout the body. However, there are several other ideas we use regarding the word heart. You have heard the expressions “from the bottom of my heart”, or “with my whole heart”, and lastly “what a heartwarming movie”. These are, of course, not speaking of the pumping of blood. It is using the term heart to define the very core of who we are. One example is, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This same basic wording was used by Jesus in Matthew 22:37. When the scriptures speak of the heart, it is not referring to the physical organ but the real us.
The ancient Israelites did not refer to the brain because, to them, intellectualism was an activity of the heart. In fact, they did not have a word for ‘brain’, for all observable activities now attributed to the brain was then a heart activity. As for the Hebrew prophets, the only true redemption was the renewing of the heart. “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6. And in our focus verse, we see how the biblical Hebrews saw the heart: it is where we experience feelings, think thoughts, and also make decisions based on our desires. Moving on to the New Testament, in ancient Greek, ‘kardia’, the word for heart in scripture does not refer to the physical organ in any instance, but rather to the center of who we are. It is the center of the personality and it includes the center of our intellect, emotions, and will.
So, based on the above, what he is saying is we need to watch over everything we think about, feel and desire. This is important because from the heart flows our true self. If we hate someone, it will eventually be manifested by our actions. We may be able to cover up negative feelings for a season, but eventually they will be seen by others. And the same can be said for love. If we genuinely love someone, they will see it through our words and deeds. If we desire things we should not, it may come out in the form of acting it out, simply talking about it with others, or focusing on it in your thoughts and dreams.
What we need to do in order to watch over our hearts was written by Paul. “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5. What he is speaking of here in the first part of this verse is to destroy reasonings or opinions that are contrary to God’s truth. The Greek philosophers valued the powers of reasoning which appeared to be profound and conclusive, but actually led them to ideas that either did not exist or were false in themselves. We need to discard these ideas and focus on the truth as found in God’s word. We need to firmly plant God’s truth in our hearts and thus make this what drives our behavior: what flows from our hearts as the spring of our lives.
And he closes with the following words on how to keep yourself from evil. “Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:24-27. As Christians, we are to be truthful and loving in the words we speak. And we are not to look away, to the right or the left, from the destination we seek, but rather be fixed on the destination we long for. “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“ Philippians:12-14. Let us watch that our hearts ore focused on our love and devotion to Christ, and that we become so devoted to Him that it shows in every area of our lives.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.