Proverbs 4:23 – Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to visit China as part of a student exchange program. During my time there, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the rich culture. From learning tai chi to making authentic wontons, I was thankful to have this incredible experience.
While I was there, we were able to visit the incredible Great Wall of China! As I was touring, the group I was a part of learned about the construction and engineering of the wall. The Great Wall was massive, but that was not the only mechanism that kept enemies at bay. As they constructed the Great Wall, they built Beacon Towers. These towers housed soldiers whose job was to watch for enemies. While the job was the first defensive mechanism, it was the soldier’s job to be on the lookout for those who were unauthorized to enter their country. If an enemy was approaching during the day, they would light a fire and use smoke to alert the troops. At night, they would use the fire to alert the troops. They were on guard every single minute of the day!
When I read Proverbs 4:23, I cannot help but imagine myself as a soldier standing on guard and watching for potential unauthorized entries. We should be vigilant and watch all entries that make their way into our hearts. When the Bible talks about the heart, most of the time it is not talking about the physical heart. Rather, it is talking about the core of who we are that houses our emotions, attitudes, and desires.
The significance of being on guard cannot be overstated. As the verse concludes, “for out of it are the issues of life.” What enters our hearts will ultimately affect the way in which we live our lives and the way we respond to the problems we face. Have you ever wondered why two people who face the same situation can have different reactions? The reason is simple, what is in the heart will ultimately come out.
Luke 6:45 says, “…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
Instead of trying to fix our responses and actions, maybe we should identify what has been infiltrating our hearts that cause that response. The responses and actions that we do not like are simply the fruit of bad roots. You can try to modify your behavior and actions, but do not be surprised when you fall back into the same bad habits. Instead of trying to change the bad fruit, look at the roots! In order for lasting change to take place, it has to begin with the roots or as Proverbs 4:23 says, the heart.