We women tend to deal with these way too often don't we? I just didn't FEEL good. I was unhappy (discontent) about certain circumstances and hurt by the words and actions of others. I was just pitiful, and I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on the solution. When I woke up this morning I was greeted by things left undone over the weekend and I sunk even deeper into my despair! I realized that a lot of my trouble with housekeeping and life in general was that I did fine when I felt like doing it, but as soon as the tide of my emotions changed I wanted to quit. I was moping around and hoping for some relief. I hadn't picked up my Bible all weekend (DING DING DING ALARM SHOULD BE GOING OFF!) so I sat down somewhat reluctantly to read God's Word. I've been reading the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month so today was Proverbs 4 and as I read I came to this very familiar verse, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." v 23. When I read that it was as if someone had sprayed Windex on my heart and was wiping away the crud that had collected there. I read it again and a word popped out at me, "Keep your heart with all DILIGENCE"! Diligence? Isn't that what I've been wanting to learn? Isn't that the theme of this blog along with it's evil opposite laziness? But this diligence was not about work it was about my HEART! I read the second half of the verse again, "...for out of it (the heart) spring the issues of life." All these things that I've been so concerned about and wanting to change, my behaviour, my habits, they flow out of the heart and diligence begins there! How stupid of me! Of course I know that the heart is what matters. I know that God cares about my motives as well as my actions, but once again God's Word had been powerfully effective at convicting and diagnosing the real problem! I am thankful beyond words for the Bible! I think this is something of what the Psalmist meant when he wrote "Your rod and your staff they comfort me" Ps. 23:4 The note on this in the MacArthur study Bible says,
"The shepherd's club and crook are viewed as comforting instruments of protection and direction, respectively."
Isn't it odd that God's often painful correction is a comfort to us who love Him!? It means we are HIS sheep! OK back to the verse in Proverbs.
I knew I needed further study on this so I did a search for the verse and Phil Johnson's sermon called "Wisdom Guards the Heart" popped up. I sat and listened attentively and quickly became enraptured by the truth he was teaching about. I commend the sermon to you and will post a link at the end of this post. There were a couple of illustrations that he mentioned that I wanted to share. The first was regarding the second half of the verse where it speaks of the spring (or issues) of life flowing out of the heart. He said that there is a reservoir near his church in the San Fernando Valley that feeds most of the LA water supply. Since 9/11 and the heightened threat of terrorism that followed there have been huge measures taken to guard that reservoir, because if it could be poisoned, much of the population of LA would subsequently be poisoned! His point was that is what it's like with our heart. If the heart, the spring that our life flows from is poisoned by sin, then all of our life will be as well! That's why it is so necessary to GUARD or KEEP it with ALL DILIGENCE! He made the crucial point also that unless our heart is a new heart, a result of Christ making us new creations, then this verse means nothing to us. Turning from sin and subsequently following Christ as our Lord is an absolute necessity! That brings up another interesting point; this verse is speaking to those of us who have new hearts! We are not yet free of the poison of sin and our hearts are still "prone to wander" so the call is to guard them diligently.
The other illustration he spoke of is relating to emotions. He said that guarding our hearts involves controlling our emotions, not being controlled by them! The analogy that he gave was that emotions are like screaming children (oh can I ever relate to this!). You have to quiet them down before they will listen to you. As women, how often are we controlled by our emotions? How often do they scream at us what we should do, say, or think? We listen to them obediently like a parent being obedient to a child! How absurd! We should be sitting them down and disciplining them! So the next time that I am tempted to obey my emotions, I'll think of that picture of a parent pitifully yielding to the will of an obstinate and disrespectful child! Please don't misunderstand, emotions can be wonderful and are truly a gift of God. We can feel the pleasure and passion that comes with being His child because of these wonderful gifts, but as Phil Johnson said, they are to be subject to us rather than us being subject to them, and truly our emotions and all of our hearts should be subject to our Lord and His Word!
SO.......Diligence and everything else starts in the heart! What an amazing thing to learn, and what a Precious Saviour we have who has "given us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness through the KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these YOU maybe PARTAKERS of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that is in the world through lust."(isn't lust at the root of most sinful emotions?) II Peter 1:2-4 (Read on! It talks about diligence!) He has given us all things, namely His Word that directs us accurately at every turn to follow Him!
www.thegracelifepulpit.com/philsermon.htm Look for the sermon from July 4, 2004 (2004-07-04pm-PJ) called "Wisdom Guards the Heart" Please listen! It is SOOOO good!