Now I come to looking at the actual passage that first inspired me to write about the importance of guarding the heart. Proverbs 4:23-27 says:
"Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil. "
Oh how I love the Bible! Not only is it true and spiritual, it is also practical and applicable to our lives across the board, across cultures, and across the centuries. God first gives us new life in Christ, but then God also speaks to us by his Spirit through his word. Not in the same manner that we speak to each other in conversation, this is a common misunderstanding. In fact, the truth is much more astounding and much more amazing. That as we seek to know the words that are written and the context of the passage, God makes himself known to us and changes our hearts deeply and wonderfully. If all we seek is a conversation, we will still find God and meet with him through his word. But we cannot fully understand what he is speaking to us until we submit to his word and to understanding what he is saying, rather than interpreting what he is saying based on our lives and circumstances.
In light of that, the context of the passage is that of a father instructing his son and teaching him to be wise. Proceeding instructions include staying away from evil and wickedness and avoiding companions that will draw you into an unwise lifestyle. That is something that I will write more about another time. But these particular verses have to do with the mind and thoughts, disciplining the mind in order to keep your heart from sin. The structure of the passage starts with the goal "Keep your heart" and the means "with all vigilance" and the reason for doing this "for from it flow the springs of life." It is followed up by practical application on how to do this.
"Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you." Even the words we say are important to keeping our hearts before God. For everyone, depending on their circumstances and struggles, this will look slightly different. For me this meant thinking and speaking soberly and thoughtfully about men, not disrespecting them in the way that I talked and doing the same with relationships. This also meant a period of time when I did not watch much television and completely forgoing "chick flicks" because they encouraged me to think lightly about sex and relationships and hardened my heart to conviction the way that I behaved towards the opposite sex and thought about relationships.
That is all I have time for today! We'll have to finish up the rest of the passage tomorrow, or tomorrow and for a day more more following.