When we are exposed to all kinds of wickedness, there is a need for us to guard ourselves, lest we fall prey to them and suffer the consequence. But if we have to guard ourselves, what will our priority be? In his wisdom, King Solomon identified the heart as the main object of our guarding. He said, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). Indeed, the heart is the center of life and everything else flows through it. It is that part of the body that pumps blood to the entire body and brings health to it. It is also the center of moral consciousness that gives health to our soul. If we are able to control the heart, controlling the rest of us will not be as difficult.
The reason King Solomon had to put emphasis on the heart was that it is the most difficult to control. Even the prophet Jeremiah sounded his frustration when he said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). It is a fact that the heart is not only good at deceiving others but ourselves as well. How often do we find ourselves being deceived by our own hearts? We sometimes think that we trust God with all our hearts, only to find out that we do not trust him that much, as manifested by our actions. We fall victim to the deceitfulness of our own hearts. If we ourselves can be deceived by our own hearts, how much more can our hearts deceive others?
As noted by the prophet Jeremiah, the deceitfulness of the heart is beyond cure. We need to be vigilant over our hearts. But how can we guard the heart? When King Solomon admonished us to guard our hearts above all else, he also provided an effective way to do so that involves three other parts of our body, namely:
The Tongue – King Solomon said, “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips” (Prov. 4:24). An unrestrained tongue pollutes the heart and destroys the whole body. In his epistle, the apostle James said, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). He further added his frustration over the deceitfulness of the tongue when he said, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). But while the tongue is desperately wicked, we are not hopeless. We can be like King David who prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil” (Psalm 141:3-4).
The Eyes – Again, King Solomon said, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you” (Prov. 4:25). We need to be focused so that we do not wander off in our faith. There are many distractions around, but we should always aim our eyes on what is right before God. Our eyes should not gaze at what is wicked and immoral. Like King David, let us ask the Lord saying, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Psalm 119:37). The importance of preserving our eyes and using it for good things only was emphasized by Job when he said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman” (Job 31:1).
The Feet – Finally, King Solomon said, “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:26-27). If we take the path that is dark and crooked, we certainly can stumble and fall. The best way to avoid evil is to step away from it and pursue what is right. Also, do not stand on slippery ground for you can quickly fall. Always remember that “there is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death” (Prov. 14:12). In our spiritual walk, let us be like King David who asked, “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalm 119:133).
Being the centre of moral conscience, we need to take good care of our hearts. If our heart is defiled by what we feed it through the other parts of our body, it will pump out the same defilement. Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Therefore, above all else, let us guard the wellspring of our life, our heart. Hallelujah!