Links Daily Devotional

A Guarded Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

“Above all else.” What an idea!

If I asked a professional who works with new golfers what to emphasize above all else, she might say, “The basics.” By this she would mean the foundational elements of the game—the grip and the stance (the latter including posture, ball position, and alignment).

Her answer would make the question only more difficult. “So among the basics,” I might continue, “which is above all else?”

In golf and in life, we have equal problems determining exactly what should be held up “above all else.” For instance, is the priority in life faith or family? With an answer given as quickly as the professional’s “basics,” we might say, “Faith. God is first.” But then we read, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4:20). In other words, faith and family are vitally linked; it’s not so easy to think of them as separate arenas.

So is there a place we can go to hone our focus down to one single matter? In his proverbs, Solomon suggested so. And that place is the heart.

If a man or woman of God wants to train their attention on the things that matter most, they must attend to their heart. This makes perfect sense when we recognize that God himself trains his attention there: “‘Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).

“The heart,” Solomon wrote, “is the wellspring of life,” and he did so in the midst of one of Earth’s great wildernesses. The misnamed prized possession of the Middle East is its oil; the truest treasure is its water. In the desert, springs and oases give life. If you would have life, you must, above all, have water.

In this reality, guarding life means guarding water. Against contamination. Against diversion. Against thievery.

And so it is true with our hearts. This is where Christ, when we have said “please rule my life,” dwells in us. It is where the life we have in him—with its wonder and worship and righteousness and freedom—originates and percolates. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” Jesus said (Luke 6:45). Get your heart right, and you’ll get the rest right. Guard your heart against contamination, diversion, thievery, and you’ll sustain what is best.

Start at the core. God will work with you from there.

Jeff Hopper
August 4, 2015
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