"Keep your heart with all diligence." The words from Proverbs 4:23 struck a chord that kept ringing in my ears. What does it mean to "keep a heart" and to do it will all diligence?
Strong's Concordance (the online version) shows that this word "keep" was used to describe the action of guarding from danger, keeping secret and even blockading. It also has the heart as the center part of the being. It is the determination of will, the conscience, the seat of appetites, emotions, passions and courage. The word "diligence" is described like a prison or guard house (no surprise given the value and importance that has been placed on the heart).
I have read Proverbs several dozen times. My new habit has been to read one Proverb each morning - the one that corresponds with the date. The importance of guarding the heart is something that I have shared with my family and many others. Today I recognize that it goes far beyond being aware of what I am putting into my heart.
Diligence for the Heart
- The things that go into my heart today will determine the person that I become tomorrow. I have to choose whether the television, song, book or movie is more important or valuable than the possibilities that lie in tomorrow. Joyce Meyer said it this way, "Never sacrifice joy for fun."
- The things that I have left IN my heart fester and grow and block the seeds that I desire to see grow and bloom. These weeds choke out my hope and become the hindrances for my future. I have to clean out the guard house so that I can see clearly. That requires daily and sometimes hourly weeding! I have allowed all kind of influences to take root in my life - and these thoughts, habits and issues are now holding me down. The only way to get the clean slate that I want is to get my hands dirty, make the choice to clear out the garden, and then DO IT!
- The things (and issues) that I have to release or overcome are only there because I allow them to exist. No one forces me to eat when I am not hungry. The hurts of my past do not keep me from turning off the television when I know I should be working. My childhood did not force me to leave my dirty clothes lying next to the laundry basket. I am who I am right now because of my choices and I will become who I want to be when I choose differently.
- The things that I have planted in my heart - from God - do not have to be revealed to the world. I need to hold them close and protect them. They need nutrients to grow and flourish. Only at the time of harvest to I have to let them show. Some things are meant to be kept just between me and God. I have to learn to listen and follow the directions of God so that I know what needs to be held back in order to remain protected.
Keep your heart. Look at all the things spinning around your life and choose right now which things will provide you with the better tomorrow. What has possibility and hope? What has temporary gratification?
Protect the you that you are becoming by blockading your life from the weeds. Build a guard house around the very center of who you are and only allow in the things that will guide and teach your appetites, emotions, passions and courage.