Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. — Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
I didn’t think too much about my heart until about a year ago. I went to the doctor to check on something that appeared on my skin. Doing all the routine checks of a check up the doctor said, “Did you know you have an irregular heartbeat?” Until that moment I have to say I took my heart for granted.
The Bible in many ways implores us to not take our heart for granted, but to guard it. It isn’t referring to the pump that circulates and oxygenates the blood in our bodies, but it refers to our soul, the center of our being, the “heart” of our being.
“Keep” in Proverbs 4:23 is sometimes translated “guard” as well. The message is that we should protect, maintain and nourish our heart because it is our heart that helps us successfully navigate life. A well-kept, guarded heart will serve us well by helping us navigate the stress of life, sustaining us in difficult circumstances and being around negative people.
How do I go about “guarding” my heart? Philippians 4:6-8 puts us on the right track:
Philippians 4:6-8 NKJV:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.
What we feed our minds will affect our heart. Life usually provides enough drama on its own so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to stir up more or to create conflict or to nurse or hold grudges and unforgiveness.
There is a direct correlation between how we care for our physical hearts and the “heart” that represents our soul. What we feed our bodies affects our physical heart, the amount of exercise and the stress that we carry. High blood pressure, heart attacks and a variety of other maladies are very real possibilities when we fail to guard our physical heart. So it is with our soul. What we feed upon, how we live out spiritual disciplines and our response to the things that offend and hurt us all will have an impact on the health of our soul.
Making the right changes takes time and I am on my journey to correct some of the things that I can control to guard my heart. At the same time, I am learning that when I care for my soul, it enhances that marvelous pump that keeps the blood moving through my body. My prayer for all of us today is: Lord, teach us to keep our hearts with all diligence and not to take our heart or our soul for granted, giving us increased capacity for life and grace for others. Amen.
Rev. Stephen Brown is minister at Kenai New Life Assembly of God.
• Rev. Stephen Brown is minister at Kenai New Life Assembly of God.