Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT
Today’s verse comes from chapter 4 of the book of Proverbs. This chapter is “A Father’s Wise Advice”, so it seems quite fitting to be mentioned after having just celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend.
I want to focus this morning on the phrase “above all else”.
It seems that when giving or receiving advice that we should pay most attention to the phrase “above all else”. As long as it isn’t over used (there should really only be one “above all else” if used properly) it should be effective in highlighting THE most important thing, ONE most important thing, a SINGLE most important thing.
And here, we see what that is — our heart, that we should guard it “above all else”.
It is our heart that is either surrendered to God in trust and in gratitude and respect (and yes, even in “Godly fear” like we studied yesterday) — our that is hardened to only be led by our own feelings and desires. When surrendered, we can stand firm and walk straight ahead, because there is One Way along the narrow path that leads us through an abundant life of purpose. But when we are blown back and forth by temptations, circumstances, and our own personal feelings and desires, we will waste so much effort and lose so much progress.
I read recently that with runners, swimmers, and other athletes, that any energy spent moving outside the plane of their intended travel is completely wasted and steals from their capability (for example, arms flailing out to the sides while running instead of pulling efficiently back and forth in the direction of travel). In sports science for professional athletes, they will even take videos of the athletes in action in order to identify the motions that are counterproductive towards improving their progress. Athletes must be single minded with a singular purpose and put all effort in that direction in order to reach their full capabilities and continue to break their own personal best records.
And this is so true of our lives, my friends. We must guard our hearts because this is the engine that will drive our everything today.
Do we not fully believe and trust in God and the fatherly wisdom that He has provided in The Word? Then we should decide today fully whether or not we will run this rave, whether or not we will follow in The Way. Because we are heading somewhere with our choices, decisions, words, and actions today — and it will influence and impact more than just ourselves. It matters.
Lord, help us today to be mindful of the critical importance of guarding our hearts, of choosing to believe and trust you, because it determines not only our day, but the direction of our lives. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.