By Keith Daniels – North Smithfield, Rhode Island
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 KJV
How do we keep our hearts? If I asked this even among Christians, I most likely would get a plethora of answers. But, how do I know the truth?
First of all, let’s look at the context of the verse of Scripture above:
“He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:4-7 KJV
First, You Must Obey
What is interesting is the obedience required in verse four. It starts with an exhortation to let our hearts retain God’s words, then leads to the direction to keep God’s commandments and live.
Scripture even tells us that Jesus learned obedience. Without obedience, we will never get to wisdom and understanding.
Learning Scripture so that we can obey is a key in getting both wisdom and understanding. Notice that knowledge is not even mentioned here.
Wisdom is knowing when, how and where to apply knowledge in our lives. Understanding is knowing the background about why it is required or has to be applied.
It is the heart behind what God has directed. God has a reason for all that he does, says and requires.
Hide and Seek (Him)
Psalms 119:11 reminds us, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
The acrostic structure and the complexity displayed in Psalms 119 are unparalleled in literature. Let’s look at the truth behind the heart of the prophet writer.
Why would anyone not want to sin against God? Obviously, the writer knew that God was good. And he was thankful for all that God had done.
Psalm 119:11 is a response to God’s love for him. Ultimately, why do children obey their parents? At first, it’s because of their parents’ displeasure for a misstep, but eventually it is to please their parents.
When I raise a pet, especially a dog, I use the dog’s desire to please me as the ultimate impetus in training. I don’t need to hit or threaten the animal into obedience. They understand “No” right away.
After that, training becomes easy; praise and reward are used throughout. God doesn’t look at us as pets, but he knows the best way to build obedience in us. We want to please our Father.
The benefits of obeying God far outweigh the consequences of being disobedient. God’s justice and mercy still often allow consequences to occur.
Since God is all-knowing, why not benefit by doing things his way instead of stumbling in the dark?
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105 KJV
The basis of “keeping our heart” is putting Scripture into our mind until it impregnates our heart which is the seat of our being. That is how we guard our minds.
Our impetus to obey is wanting to please God our Father. Even Jesus Christ learned to obey.
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” Hebrews 5:7-9 KJV
Keeping our heart makes us responsive to God’s communication to us. When we become complacent or apathetic, it’s often because we haven’t kept our head and hearts in the Book.
Worth the Work
That’s why Proverbs four tells us to keep our hearts with all diligence. It takes work. When our heads are in the world we get rundown; we start to complain just like the rest of the world does.
The world often blames God for everything that happens, good or bad, even though most of these things are caused by Satan, the god of this world.
The world seldom has no clue who they are serving. They often think that they are serving God when they actually serve the god of this world.
They have little or no foundation in truth and are carried around by every wind of doctrine, propounded by evil men and women. God’s Word gives us a standard for truth by which everything is measured and understood.
This is why we keep our hearts, because it’s important both now and in the future life.
Keith is a servant-leader, teacher and retired U.S. Navy chief electronics technician. He is a father and has loved biblical research since 1976. His published works include “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord” and “Worshipping the One True God.”