Proverbs 4: Guard Your Heart
August 4, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Once again, this chapter of Proverbs urges the reader to listen to the Word. There is no doubt that in normal circumstances, in normal situations, your own father will give you wise advice to which it is wise to listen. He wants what is best for you, understands you, has lived longer than you—so it makes sense, in normal circumstances, to listen to such advice. There are exceptions to this general rule, of course; some fathers are awful and even abusive and should not be listened to. But most of the time it makes sense to listen to your father and take his advice. That is not popular counsel today, but it is true.
This chapter, though, reaches for a higher principle: it makes sense to listen to God’s Word.
There is a particular principle which in this chapter stands “above all.” Verse 23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Out of your heart the mouth speaks. You want to ensure that your thinking and feeling and desires (the “heart” in the Bible is not equivalent to the modern usage where it means emotions; in the Bible it means the whole person, the center of who you are). Guard the heart: set your heart’s desires on God and on pleasing God.
How do you do this? This chapter of Proverbs concludes with four ways to guard your heart. 1) Watch what you say: “Keep your mouth free from perversity” (4:24). What you say affects what you think and feel. 2) Watch what you watch: “Let your eyes look straight ahead” (4:25). Keep your gaze fixed on what is most important, not the trivial or the profane. Where you look affects who you are. 3) Watch what you think: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet” (4:26). A thoughtless life will normally end up in the ditch. Think before you speak; think before you act. 4) Watch your walk: “Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (4:27). Evil deeds can shape a heart to become evil. Be careful to stay on the narrow path that leads to life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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