Take Care of Your Heart
for from it comes the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23) What does this mean?
When I think of issues, I think of negative circumstances in my personal life and in the world around me. We all have “issues”, whether they be a quick temper or a negative self-concept; a child that seems hyperactive, or the father-in-law that is overbearing whenever he visits for the holidays. We share corporate issues: increased sensitivity to opposing views, the fight to maintain inner peace…
What exactly is our heart?
Whether the subconscious part of our mind or our spirit, or a space where our spirit and soul overlap, the point of Proverbs 4:23 is that the core of who we are must be protected and maintained, lest it be stained and hardened.
The Bible calls our heart a ground that sometimes needs to be broken up–like the soil of my garden after winter so that life-giving seed can be planted.
Here is Hosea 10:12 from the Amplified Bible
Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate];
Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground,
For it is time to seek and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing]
Until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you.
I love the intentionality of the first line: Sow with a view to righteousness. This involves deliberate action. Attentiveness. Daily inspection. We are called to be stewards, master gardeners of our the core of who we are. But we don’t do this on our own. As we consider other scriptures, we discover that we need 1) God’s light to reveal what we haven’t discerned about ourselves. He helps us become self-aware. 2) Life-giving relationships with those who also hunger and thirst for righteousness. Look at your crowd. Who you listen to every day. The voices that inform you. Whether in person or on social media, we are taking in ideas…seeds. Some seeds grow weeds.
2020 brought about circumstances–issues that attacked our hearts. My oldest son and I wrote, Justice Reframed: How the Cross Confronts our Pursuit of Justice, because we recognized that manmade divisions, sinful attitudes, broken mindsets and violent reactions to injustice were trying to penetrate the soil of our hearts–the soil work that God had been doing in our hearts for years. Still, as 2020 comes to a close, we must stay intentional to guard that which God has planted and then allow Him to uproot what we let in. We must guard the gates of this precious place–the core of who we are so that we reflect the glory of God in all that we do and say. May our hearts reflect the heart of God!
“Enthroning our preferences or prejudices causes us to miss the heart of God and fall into judgmentalism.”
We often do this with our friends, our kids, and our spouses–assume our opinion of an issue or our solution to a problem is right. In doing so, the opinions of others become invalid. Lord, give us clean hearts!
“As Christ followers, we have to acknowledge where our manner and our message has not reflected His. We have to see how we have seared our consciences through self-righteousness, which has widened the very gaps we are called to close.” (Justice Reframed)
PEACEMAKERS! RECONCILERS! BRIDGE-BUILDERS! That is who we are called to be, but we cannot, we will not do the work that Jesus commissioned us to do, if we do not guard our hearts, protecting the life of God’s word as we sow it day by day, through bible study and prayer.
In the weeks ahead, during the holidays, on social media, when we meet others in public, we can reveal the heart of Jesus. He loves everyone, although He does not always like what we do or have done. But God’s forgiveness flows when we admit our failures.
As a mom, I try to pause before reacting to the bad behavior of one of my kids. Especially since 2020 has been so difficult for all of us. I pause and ask the Lord to help me discern anything that is causing the bad behavior. Sure, maybe they are eating too much sugar or fell asleep to late. I can fix those things easily. But maybe there are other issues going on that their young hearts are wrestling with. Missing friends. Night terrors. Fear about tomorrow. Feeling ignored by us when we listen to them while staring at our cell phones – ouch!
Let’s take this perspective with us. When people act in ways that are disrespectful or speak critically, we don’t have to like it. But before we respond, let us discern (or ask them) what may be going on in their hearts. Lord, help me pray for the hearts of those I care about every day!
One Last Reason to Take Care of Your Heart
You are here for a reason.
“out of it comes the issues of life”
When what is within our hearts is pure, healthy, humble–the environment around us will be positively affected. We are called to bring change–release vitality, hope and vision, unity, and Truth.
In my book, Culture Changers I wrote:
“Humanity is like a building constructed of stones, one set securely on top of another. Loose stones clearly affect the whole structure. As hearts are healed and thinking transformed, we as a society become steady where we used to be shaky.”
“A good portion of our ability to change communities and impact individuals comes through “living in an opposite spirit” to the divisive and hopeless climate around us, which means that even our manner is powerful. Just smiling, saying hi, or asking if someone is having a good day is a great start–“
Practical tips to maintain your “heart health”. (Taken from Culture Changers)
Take time each day to connect with God. Quietness is
rewarding. Enter into this space aware that the One who
created you is waiting to nurture your spirit and soul.
Stay humble. No human being ever “arrives” at the peak
of perfection. We will never know it all or have all the
Think about where you are on your journey toward triune
health. Find additional resources that will help you
Stay thankful for your story. The journey you’re on is a
testimony for someone else. Be grateful for the lessons
you’re learning in your relationships and challenging
Make sure you’re in relationships with people who can
encourage you in this endeavor and give wise advice.
Commit to being emotionally honest with these people.