“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Pretty weighty proverb written by the wisest man who ever lived, have you ever taken time to give it some thought? Diligent heart keeping is essential to experience healthy character development. The heart in this case represents the health of the mind and all of the abundance of what our thoughts and passions are. Left to ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless sinners, but when we consent to be brought into subjection to Christ, the Holy Spirit cleanses us from all defilement. After doing such, we must choose whether we will abide in Christ or not, this is a moment by moment decision. It is our duty to as a follower of Christ to keep our hearts undefiled. Many seem to think that the religion of Christ does not call for the abandonment of daily sins, the breaking loose from habits which have held the soul in bondage. They renounce some things condemned by the conscience, but they fail to represent Christ in the daily life. They live a religion of show, where they seek to please God by outward show but their heart is far from Him.
They do not bring Christ-likeness into their home. They do not show thoughtful care in the choice of the words they speak to their spouses and children. Too often, fretful, impatient words are spoken, words which stir the worst passions of the human heart. Such ones need the abiding presence of Christ in the soul. Only in His strength can they keep guard over their words and actions.
In the work of heart-keeping we must be instant in prayer, unwearied in petitioning the throne of grace for assistance. Those who take the name of Christian should come to God in earnestness and humility, pleading for help. The Savior has told us to pray without ceasing. We should cultivate a love for meditation, and cherish a spirit of devotion. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Repeating scripture text when we are going through a stormy season of trial and temptation truly works, because we truly make a decision by seeking the Lord’s wisdom in those situations. As we repeat His words and rebuke the enemy we are imbued by His power and grace to overcome our feelings and live by principle. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then our thoughts will be of things eternal, and this will spill out to our actions being loving. To do such will put life and earnestness into all of our endeavors. It is our privilege as Christians to be “increasing in the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13. When we exercise, it helps to increase our appetite, and gives strength and vitality to our body, so will devotional exercises bring an increase of grace and spiritual vigor to our hearts!
So where I am going with this title, you may ask. Well the question I am addressing here is how does God truly expect us to live our lives in a world that is so unpredictable and so unpleasant at times. I have come to the conclusion that God expects all who realize the sacredness of their life to live a life full of their best output in any given situation. So where do we get the power to score so high in our journey of life? The key is in the power of the will, will we surrender our wills to God so that He is allowed to shape us the way He wants to follow His principles which are eternal? Or will we we continue to act on our feelings and continually fail in many areas?
Many who are qualified to do excellent work accomplish little because they attempt so little. Do you feel like you keep falling into the same behaviors day after day, and that you are spiraling down hill because the things that you really need to accomplish never get done? The same spirit and principles that you bring into your daily tasks will be brought into the whole life. If we give as little as possible of our physical, mental and moral powers to what we have to do in the day, how can we expect that God will choose us to pour His abundant blessings on? The example of such folks is contagious. Self-interest is the ruling motive. If we are guilty of such, we will never be a success in this life or in life eternal, because Christ manifested energy, integrity and diligence in all He did and expects the same of His followers.
Many people become inefficient and unreliable because they evade responsibilities for fear of failure or for just plain laziness. They don’t realize the great blessing that comes for those who persevere through whatever the circumstance may be, those who make a plan and work that plan till they reach the product are those who will reap the most benefit out of life. Man can shape circumstances, but circumstances should not be allowed to shape man. We should take hold of the circumstances as the instruments which can help build our characters for eternity. We are to master them, but should not permit them to master us.
We have a great purpose for living, that is to realize our greatest potential in whatever work that is placed before us. We should never be satisfied with reaching a low standard. We should aim everyday to diligently pursue whatever is challenging us so that we improve through Christ’s grace. God can work in and by and through us as we surrender our hearts daily to His leading and let go of the reigns of controlling every aspect of our day. Let God guide us and follow His lead as our day unfolds, retain our joy when the things that we had planned don’t happen. Consider that God knows what is best for us, so that the plans that He has for our day are perfect, compared to the plans that we may have had for ourselves. When we do such, a great weight is lifted, we accomplish much more, because we begin to do every task to the glory of God. It is in considering the big picture, that the pieces of the puzzle of life begin to unfold. For example, as we surrender what may be grumpy attitude for a joyful pleasant one, we reap the benefits of having a happier home, or as we have to deal with life changing circumstances, like an incurable disease or a death, we realize that we have no control over these but we can control how we react to them. We must consider that God says in His word that, “all things work together for good to them that love God.”