23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
Keeping the heart is a call of dire need. The heart of the human being – is the core of life. Of course the organ that pumps blood is not being referred to here – but the organ of the soul that communicates life and purpose and passion to the whole being is intended. It is what the old theologians used to refer to as inward “inclination” – what each of us is inclined toward as the governing direction of our life’s pursuit – the gravitational pull of our inward man. What, when all else is stripped away, drives and motivates us.
The truth is, many of us never even take the time to find out what exactly DOES motivate us above all else. We often flit from thing to thing still looking for an all consuming passion. But in reality, we already have one. It is at the bottom of all the choices we make in life. We simply haven’t identified it yet. For some it is safety. For others, pleasure. Still others seek meaning above all else, or a sense of accomplishment, approval, validation or simply to consume what seems most desirable at the moment.
So how does one then “keep” or guard the heart, so that we are walking in wisdom and in fellowship with God and His eternal plans and purposes? What am I to be “vigilant” over for that to happen – so that the “springs of life” – the fountain of true joy and refreshment and sustenance remain unpolluted by the poisons of the Fall?
Our Teacher points out four things.
1. (24) One must cultivate honesty with themselves, and with others. If we are willing to entertain duplicity – to have secret lives, to live dishonestly with others, we will inevitably be habitual hypocrites. We must be brutally honest with ourselves about our own sinfulness and unwilling to seem better than we are to others – even if that invites rebuke. Passing ourselves off as Mr. or Ms. Altogether-Christian for the public consumption of others will lead us to hide, and at the same time to live in constant judgment of others. If you are constantly avoiding letting people see who you really are, or pointing the finger at other’s sins – this is probably your area of need.
2. (25) We must be actually aimed at the goal of Heaven and Christ’s likeness. If that is not our goal and aim in life – if that is not where we are traveling to in life – then we are headed somewhere else. No one stumbles into Heaven – we go there intentionally or not at all. There will be no accidental tourists there. Those who have no clear destination will wander – emotionally, spiritually and in every other area of life. Are you on your way to meet the King? Are you actually plotting a course there? If not, you will not arrive.
3. (26) We must examine and re-examine our decisions to see if they are commensurate with our stated goal and direction. The heart is distracted and polluted when our decision making practice does not at least include (at SOME point) the question as to how this decision fits with where I am going and who I am becoming in Christ. Countless woes would be avoided if we would ask this of ourselves before we entered into things. How does X fit with my journey to see Jesus? Does it help? Does it hinder? Is it compatible?
4. (27) We cannot move off of the path that the Scripture has given us, and still get there. Isaiah calls it a “highway of holiness.” There is only one way to follow Christ – I must walk the same way He does, I must go WITH Him. And He is not going certain places. He is not heading into sexual immorality. He is not moving toward theft, or lust, or dishonesty, or coveting this world’s goods, or fame or pleasure. He is headed home to His Father. And there but one road there – Him. He Himself IS the truth, the life and the way.
So my friend – where are you off to today? And how will you be getting there?