EP44 Proverbs 4:23

Let’s start off by establishing that the heart is evil. I’ve had folks argue in the past that they don’t believe it is and there’s nothing I can say that will change their minds. So let’s take it to the bible and see what it says about the heart. Starting with Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and desperately wicked – who can understand it?” Let’s look at Mark 7:20-23. Jesus says, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
Let’s talk about why that’s a problem. Matthew 12:34 says, “How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Combine that with Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” And James 3 tells us that the tongue is like the rudder of a ship or a small fire that sets a forest ablaze. We’ve been talking about fruit lately and if you’ve been listening then I think you’ll agree we want what’s coming out of our mouths to reap us fruit that brings life instead of bringing death.
What we all need then is a heart transplant; we need new hearts. Ezekiel 36:26 God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” That word flesh there is one of those translations that is accurate to the original language used, but the English lacks in communication the message being translated. The word translated as flesh there is the Hebrew word:
H1320 בָּשָׂר bâśâr baw-sawr' From H1319; flesh (from its freshness); by extension body, person; also (by euphemism) the pudenda of a man: - body, [fat, lean] flesh [-ed], kin, [man-] kind, + nakedness, self, skin.
The message here is one of vulnerability and tenderness. If you’re looking for an idea of just how vulnerable and tender we’re talking here then go look up that word “pudenda” in the dictionary. That’s p – as in papa, u – as in uniform, d – as in delta, e – as in echo, n – as in november, d – as in delta, and a – as in alpha. That picture painted there, taking away a heart of stone and giving us a heart of tender vulnerability; that’s really what we’re looking at here.
Personally, I believe that we’re born with these kinds of hearts; tender, vulnerable, malleable. The problem is that we’re born into a fallen world and that tender, vulnerable, malleability is affected by and changed by every experience. It’s not long before we find ourselves in need of that heart transplant. This is what Jesus did for us; He came to give us a spiritual heart transplant. We surrender our old heart of stone with its hurts and habits and, like we talked about in the last podcast episode, then we train like an Olympic athlete to run after God with all that we have.
It’s important then that we heed the words of this week’s verse, Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else for it is the source of life.” We must be diligent to guard and protect our hearts from being defiled by unrighteous lust, and unholy anger, selfishness, and other sins. We have to treat our hearts like a precious jewel and keep our conscience void of offence. Reject bad thoughts, focus on good thoughts, and keep our affections on the right things. Ephesians 6 tells us to wear righteousness on our chest like armor. We also need to surround ourselves by those who will help us along with these things.
As an exercise in this, when you’ve got a chance, write down a list of the good aspects about yourself you want enhanced by those around you. Then you’re going to make two lists of all the people that are constantly around you. In one list you’ll place those who help you enhance the things on your list, and the other will be the ones who don’t. For me, the list is Christian, Husband, Father, and Friend. Quite simply put if someone in my life doesn’t challenge me to be better in one or more of those areas then I don’t let them speak into my heart and my life. I certainly don’t excommunicate them if they don’t enhance these areas; you have to really cross a line for that.
Once you’ve made your list you have to ask yourself, “Are you guarding your heart and ensuring you’re healthy first and foremost in your relationships?” I understand friendship evangelism and I’m not telling you to unduly cut anyone out of your life. Just decide if you need to draw some new lines to ensure your heart is staying healthy and bringing good fruit.
Let me tell ya’, what’s in your heart is going to come out. My wife can’t help herself but to put her foot in her mouth on a regular basis. Recently we were at the church we attend on Sunday mornings and we ran into my wife’s supervisor, whom I’ve met several times, and her husband. My wife got all giddy and introduced me to her supervisor again and followed it up with, “I really like her.” This wouldn’t have been so awkward if she had waited till we were out of earshot or whispered it into my ear, but she said it right there before we had even begun to walk away, at full volume. You see one of the things that are in my wife’s heart is honesty, it oozes out of her; she just can’t help it. I see it come out of her all the time; in situations like this one. I see it come out in her commitment to telling the truth and the frustration she feels when she knows someone is lying to her, someone she cares about, or worse to a child.
While we’re talking about my wife another thing that’s in her heart is forgiveness. This one really blows me away. I really wish I had this in my heart at the same level that she does. No matter how angry I make her, or someone else makes her, doesn’t really matter who it is; within minutes to sometimes hours at the longest she has forgotten all about it and let it go. Sometimes I forget about this super-power of hers and it blows me away all over again when she uses it. I love these things about my wife, she amazes me. These things, honesty and forgiveness; they’re heart traits that have to be cultivated and trained to get them to that level, you don’t accidentally attain them.
The question you have to ask yourself is, What’s coming out of your heart? Is it good things you can work to increase, or bad things you need to weed out?
Until next time…
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