This month, and in the weeks ahead, I am going to talk about something that is very near and dear to us all. Our hearts. Over the past week or so I have had this verse rustling around in my head. The verse is Proverbs 4:23 – Now there it states a simple truth, yet a very profound and arresting truth. Look what it says… “ Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (ESV) Another version says it this way, “23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”(NLT)
Elsewhere in scripture Jesus teaching on the heart says, “35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (Matt. 12:35 ESV) Again in a different version its states this truth this way, “35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”(NLT)
Our hearts – are extremely important. Scripturally speaking, the Heart regularly refers to the center of one’s inner life and orientation to God, from which a person does all thinking, all their doing and all their speaking. Our heart condition matters to God – and to our walk with Jesus.
If this is true, why then do we as people allow our hearts to be discouraged, perplexed and run through as if by a sword on a daily basis? We curse those in our lives, we speak evil of life and others, we do despicable if not at the very least off colored deeds…despite knowing who lives inside of us – despite the power we have to fight these things off in our relationship with Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit.
Theologian John Owen is noted as penning these words, “However strong a castle may be, if a treacherous party resides inside (ready to betray at the first opportunity possible), the castle cannot be kept safe from the enemy. Traitors occupy our own hearts, ready to side with every temptation and to surrender to them all.” (John Owen, Sin and Temptation (Bethany House, 1996)
The Bible – God’s word to you and I – calls us to a different type of lifestyle. A lifestyle Vigilance when it comes to our heart. Vigilance defined is this, “to be alertly watchful, especially to avoid danger.” Synonyms of this word are attentiveness, caution and observance.
So when the Bible tells you to ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance’ it means to continually be alert and watchful of danger to your heart. This means that you and I must actively and continually be cautious of any dangers to our hearts.
Much like the “Hibernia oil platform in the North Atlantic is 189 miles (315 kilometers) east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. The total structure, from the ocean floor to the top of the derrick, is 738 feet high and cost over $6 billion to build.
Unlike the fated Ocean Ranger, a platform that sank in 1982 with all 84 men aboard lost at sea, the Hibernia’s design incorporates a GBS (gravity based structure) which anchors it to the seabed. It is fastened to the ocean floor in 265 feet of water.
The structure does not move. It is stationary because it sits in the middle of “iceberg alley,” where icebergs can be as large as ocean liners. Sixteen huge concrete teeth surround the Hibernia. These teeth were an expensive addition, designed to distribute the force of an iceberg over the entire structure and into the seabed, should one ever get close.
(Get this however…) Hibernia’s owners take no chances. Radio operators plot and monitor all icebergs within 27 miles (45 kilometers). Any that come close are “lassoed” and towed away from the platform by powerful supply ships. Smaller ones are simply diverted using the ship’s high-pressure water cannons or with propeller wash. As rugged and as strong as this platform is, and as prepared as it is for icebergs to strike it, the owners have no intention of allowing an iceberg to even come close.
But the big one will come, and Hibernia is designed accordingly. It is built to withstand a 1,000,000-ton iceberg, with designers claiming it can actually withstand a 6,000,000-ton iceberg with reparable damage.
What’s amazing is that a million-ton iceberg is expected only once every 500 years. One as large as 6-million-tons comes around once every 10,000 years.
That’s what I call preparation and vigilance.” (Robert Kiener, “Marvel of the North Atlantic,” Reader’s Digest (December 1998)
Biblically speaking, spiritually speaking this takes place as we continually “take every thought captive”. The apostle Paul writes, “ for though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3–6 ESV)
Paul here declares that his power in life, the ability to lead the life Jesus called him too came from the understanding of the Gospel. That Jesus Christ as the Son of God was crucified for sinners, died and rose again that we might have new life in Him. It is this life to which Jesus has called you and I too that we might walk then in it by the His power. Power found in relationship to Him and the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
“23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”(Prov. 4: 23 NLT)
Like the Hibernia oil platform in the North Atlantic, Guard your Hearts. Keep alert to the different ‘icebergs’ that threaten your heart. Gossip, Slander, Harsh words, lying, meanness, bitterness, hatred, anger, violence, pride and a number of other things I haven’t yet mentioned. Don’t wait till it’s too late and the ‘icebergs’ are knocking at the door of your heart…by then it may very well be too late.
Be watchful, cautious and be aware to keep such things far from your heart – in fact, like the ships surrounding the platform which are on iceberg patrol – push them away from you – take them captive – and pull them from the sidewalk of your heart’s door.
This is a constant ongoing battle – It lasts a lifetime. I will not lie to you.
The reward however for such diligence, is a life that is free.
Free in our conscious towards the God whom we love.
Free in our conscious towards one another.
Free in our ability to enjoy God’s love and acceptance of us.
Free in our ability to share God’s love and acceptance with others.
Free in our ability to enjoy life as we know it – despite our circumstances.
Free in our ability to enjoy one another – despite the quirks.
Free to live as God intended us to live – as he created us to live.
Free to be who God created us to be and in doing so find purpose despite our stage of life or age.
Maybe you could fill in the blanks as you ponder what could be if you obeyed God in this command,
“23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”(Prov. 4:23 NLT)
Though this is something many of you may have heard at one time or another, it is non-the-less a good reminder.
What is in your heart matters to God. What comes out of your heart matters to God.
You and I can never stop – guarding – with all diligence our hearts. For it determines the course of our lives here and for eternity.
I know that when I stand before Jesus someday I want to hear him say those words, “Well done my good and faithful servant- enter my rest.” Though I believe by his grace and His word I am already headed to that rest one day, I want to go there with more than the skin I wear. Don’t you?
Today, won’t you purpose to guard your heart with all vigilance?