"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
The Bible gives us instructions or rather a command to guard our own heart with all diligence. One would think that this is something easy to do but the instructions indicate that it takes effort to perform. Diligence is a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; it involves a persistent exertion of body or mind. It is not something that just happens without a dedication to continue in the task at hand.
So why I am I talking about the heart? Because the decisions we make concerning our lives take place in the heart. The heart is a guide and a meter that weighs everything around us, it can be the deciding factor between whether we enjoy the abundant life we have through Christ Jesus or settle for mediocrity and misery. The things we speak germinate in the heart and flow from our mouths. The attitude we display is an extension of what is taking place deep down in our hearts.
At the start of each year many people make some type of resolution and most of their resolve involves physical changes or decisions to pursue a better career or a more stress free life. But the truth is without an internal make over of the heart all else is worthless. You can put a person is a new situation or in new surroundings but if the condition of the heart has not changed; they will continue to be unhappy. God wants to give us more than simple happiness but a joy that can only come from Him. Happiness is affected by external conditions but joy comes from within and remains constant even when conditions change.
How does one keep your heart? Proverbs 23 says, Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. Not just any instruction or knowledge but the knowledge and instruction that comes from God. You see there are people who can make the most inaccurate information sound good because can speak their piece with such fervor or they may have the gift of gab. But unless the things they've said line up with God's truth, it counts for nothing. We tend to lean towards the things that suit our personal situation or create a degree of comfort for ourselves. However, the growth that is stimulated by God's truth can be and often is a painful process and good instruction is not always pleasant to the ear. But when it's right, it pierces the unhardened heart and causes much a needed renovation to take place.
In the book of Jeremiah the prophet wrote, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? I the Lord search the mind; I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."
Without Jesus as an active part of our lives and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of leading our own way. The heart can be so deceitful that it can fool the very person it beats within. This is why we must depend on the Lord to reveal the inconsistencies, stony places, perverseness and lies that dwell in the inner most part of man.
Some of us may be able to disguise what is really inside but the Lord sees it all. He knows our strengths and weaknesses; he knows our hurts, fears, anger, and lusts, as well as how much we really love Him and His people.
This year I invite you to strive to keep your hearts before the Lord. Ask Him to reveal those things that are not pleasing in His sight and lean on Him to heal and deliver in those areas. Each of us has growth potential and heart surgery needed that only the Spirit of the Lord can perform. This time can be a time of self examination and an opportunity to allow the Lord to quicken our hearts.
This is a time for those of us who seem to have stopped running to rededicate ourselves, for those who have slowed down to be revived,for those who are seeking change to be renewed, and for those who have lost our way to be restored. The good news is the God wants that for each of us. We don't have to settle with who we are or where we are, but instead we can look towards the promises we have in Jesus that is available to those who desire a clean heart. In Christ, we are made new: "Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come!"
Let's walk in the newness of life. This year with all of the things we consider doing, let us not overlook the most important thing, a heart that is pleasing unto the Father.