From childhood contemporary man is conditioned to follow his heart. For example, the elders in The Land Before Time told their dinosaur children, "Follow your heart." The heart, however, cannot be trusted! Jeremiah describes the heart as "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). Solomon warns man to guard his heart, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).
There's a big difference between guarding your heart and following your heart. Why does Solomon urge those who seek after wisdom to guard their hearts? The heart is easily influenced by persuasive words of persuasive people in persuasive circumstances.
Throughout Proverbs Solomon warns men and women about many snares that impact the heart:
Adultery and seductive women. Seductive women and adultery steal away the heart.
Stinginess - shrivels the heart
Laziness - impoverishes the heart
Wealth - enslaves the heart
Greed - consumes the heart
Pride - exalts the heart
Lust - infects the heart
Wisdom protects the heart, "to deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things" (2:12). Solomon urges wisdom-seekers to "trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths" (3:5-6). The heart cannot be trusted, but the Lord can be trusted.
We often ask God in prayer to do for us what He expects us to do for ourselves. Guarding our hearts is our responsibility.
The door of one's heart swings both ways. First, the doors of the heart must be locked from the outside to prevent the bad stuff from escaping from the heart ("from out of the heart man speaks"), which means that we must discipline our thoughts and words. Second, the doors of the heart must be locked from the inside to prevent entrance to the bad stuff "out there" (resentment, unforgiveness, etc.). Stuff happens daily that influences and poisons our hearts. Because the heart is the wellspring of life, we can never afford to take a break from guarding what comes in and what goes out.
Guarding one's heart is a full-time job, but the consequences of an unprotected heart are much more costly than the job of guarding it. Had Solomon guarded his heart, the kingdom might have remained intact; had David guarded his heart, the course of his later years might have been joyful instead of painful.
What do the early chapters in Proverbs teach about wisdom and those who walk according to God's wisdom?
What role does the Word of God play in communicating God's wisdom?
How does the LORD use parental authority to manifest His wisdom?
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