This morning I was reading a verse about the heart in honor of Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I like to read stuff according to the theme or holiday. I guess it’s kinda my version of the holiday sweaters. So as you read this, picture me in a bedazzled heart sweatshirt. LOL!
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
I like making my boys a valentine to go with a treat and thought I’d use this verse this year. It seemed like a sweet little verse and lesson about the heart, until I started dissecting it. Once I cut it open, geesh, it cut me straight to the heart. So I looked up each of these words in the original Hebrew. (That makes me sound really smart but don’t be impressed—I just use an app on my phone. Do you have a Strong’s concordance app on your phone yet?—its FREE and so easy to use! And you’ll feel so scholarly.).
Keep in Hebrew is natsar– to guard, in a good sense, to protect, watch over, maintain, obey. But it can also be used to guard in a bad sense, as in conceal, to hide. What this speaks to me is that I can protect the good in my heart or I can conceal those bad things in there. Scary to think that my heart may have dark, ugly corners. But it does… you know how I know? Sometimes I say something and it’s so unkind. It’s really an x-ray of my heart. Matthew 12:34 says, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It’s just bubbling up. If it’s in there, it will come out. Oh God, help me! Are you thinking the same thing too?
So, how do we keep it from getting in there? That phrase “with all diligence” in Hebrew is mishmar; it means a guard, a deposit, a ward, a post, a place of confinement, a jail, prison. Hmmm…so I keep in prison those bad things in my heart? No! I keep the good in and the bad out. But sometimes we don’t even know the bad that’s hiding in there. Don’t worry—God does and He’ll let you see it too. King David, the man after God’s own heart, didn’t always have a pretty heart either. Listen to some of his prayers…Create in me a clean heart, O God… Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Sidenote: I love the psalms. Some of them are just like reading journal entries. They were real people with real problems and real emotions. But had a very real God, ready to help).
When God tries us, it’s not that He’s showing us how bad we are. He’s showing us because He loves us and knows that hidden things of the heart have a way of working their way to the outside, destroying us and those around us. So when He shows us, don’t take it as condemnation. Take it as a loving Father correcting His children for their own good. I’ve learned from being a parent, it’s easier to let things go and not deal with them, but it’s not loving. Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” So when He corrects you, receive that spanking as a sign of His love and that you’re really His child. I don’t go around whooping just any kid—they have to be my own;).
The last part of this verse, “for out of it spring the issues of life” gives us the reason why we should lock down our hearts. That word issues means exit, outgoing, source, escape. I’ve had issues in my life that exit straight from my mouth. Haven’t you? I hope we’re not those people who have non-stop drama, who blame it on everything outside of them. But this verse shows us, that many of our issues actually come from within. We can be in a storm, but the storm doesn’t have to be in us. I’m not always good at this. Honestly, sometimes I let my issues affect others (oh–not usually outside people, those at the grocery, school or church, but my inside people-the ones that l love the most and know me the best). As a mama to four boys, I want to pour out the good in my heart and deal with the yuck in there so I don’t puke it out onto them. Instead of trying to control every word I say, the answer is to control what comes into my heart so that what comes out is blessing not cursing. (And you can curse without cussing—is it uplifting or tearing down?). Oh Lord, I’ve got issues. Bless my bedazzled heart.