This is the continuation from my previous post “Keeping our Hearts with Diligence (Part I)”.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
In my previous post on keeping our hearts with diligence, I stopped with the subject of our eyes. Who we might be looking at. What we are looking for. Where we are setting our affections.
Colossians 3:2-3 says- “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The problem is most of us haven’t even realized who we truly belong to. The reason our affections aren’t on things above, but are rather, on this earth, is because our lives are not hid with Christ in God. But they are supposed to be. In fact, Romans 12:1-2 tells us that this is only our “reasonable service”. Paul couldn’t even go beyond what was “reasonable”, because the Christians wouldn’t even do that. And while the desires of our hearts can be extremely hard to give up, I know, it is a crucial part of our walk with the Lord. We do not belong to ourselves. It is not our life alone, to choose what we want to do with it or who we will spend it with. We answer to the Lord.
“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” (v.26)
Here I would like to talk about our path. “Let our ways be established”. Where are we going? What is our goal? What are we establishing?
I heard it said recently, that “You are either devising your own way or God is ordering your steps.” When it comes to our heart’s path, there isn’t much middle ground. Either you are conniving to get what you want or you are waiting on what the Lord wants to give you. And if you would but search your heart a little while, you’d know exactly which one you were. The truth is, our actions speak louder than our words. A lot of young girls will say that they are waiting on the Lord, but their actions do not prove it to be true. They seem almost desperate to attach themselves to someone. This shouldn’t be. Why? Because our contentment is found in the Lord. He is the One satisfying our heart’s desire. He fills all our emotional needs. He is love. He is our purpose. He is our goal. Sometimes it is needful to ask ourselves a few questions.
Just to see where our hearts honestly are.
Am I content exactly where God has placed me?
Is there anything (or anyone) that seems to always come before my desire for Christ?
Am I patient and happy to wait for His perfect timing, even if it’s much longer than I would have expected?
Is there just as much peace in letting go of my desires as in seeing them fulfilled?
Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”
“Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.” (Proverbs 23:19)
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, “follow your heart”. What a dangerous thing to do! Seeing as our hearts are deceitfully wicked above all things. They are not supposed to be followed, or heeded in the least. No, instead, we are actually commanded to guide our hearts. So, while our hearts will often at times feel completely unruly and impossible to deal with, they aren’t. How are we to guide our hearts? By trusting them to Jesus.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
By trusting our hearts to the Lord, we allow Him to lead them. This often requires continual surrender. But with surrender, comes a blessed peace. The Lord Jesus wants to establish our ways. He wants to lead our hearts. His paths are always the loveliest to follow. He is a good Heavenly Father. He delights to give His children good things. We can trust Him. And no path can be deemed lonely when He is the One traveling it with you.
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalms 40:2)
In Isaiah 55: 8 and 9, we see where the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways, not our ways. They are infinitely higher and so much wiser. Sometimes, it would seem, the Lord has to rescue me from myself. Thinking that I know what is best for me, when in reality, I don’t. Of course, we all think that if we really got what our hearts longed and wished for it would all turn out right in the end. But just as a wise mother lovingly holds back her child from danger, so Christ holds us back from what we don’t understand. We will never see as He sees. And we can never love ourselves as much as He truly loves us. There is just as much love in His “yes” as in His “no”.
I remember one time in my life, a couple of years ago, when I wondered about a certain young man in my life. I found myself attracted to him and wondered if the feeling was mutual. Considering whether he might be the Lord’s will for me or not, I prayed about it. And the Lord gave me John 21:21-22.
“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
Basically, it is none of your business. J
What is my path? To follow after Jesus. And the rest is His responsibility. It doesn’t matter who your future husband may or may not be, or where he even is, that is for the Lord to direct. We are to be waiting and keeping our hearts with all purity, with all diligence. The Lord has to be our goal. Not marriage. Not a relationship. Not anything else. Just Him.
“Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (v. 27)
And then, we have the command to “turn not” and to “remove thy foot from evil.” Again, it isn’t “evil” to like someone. It isn’t “evil” to want to get married. But it is evil to be thinking or dwelling on anything that doesn’t fit into the verse of Philippians 4:8.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
In removing our foot from evil, we need to be establishing our thoughts.
“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
Our thoughts are very important to the Lord. It is easy to excuse them as not really being “that big of a deal”, especially since no one else can actually see them and aren’t necessarily effected by them. But this isn’t actually true. For one thing, Jesus sees all our thoughts. He is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) And if for no other reason, we should care that our thoughts are pure because of Him. Proverbs 23:7 tells us “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” What we think about, says a lot about us. Where our minds continually dwell, says a lot about where our hearts are. And while others may not see your thoughts per se, our thoughts affect our actions, which then affect those around us. It is important where our minds wonder. You are not alone in your little world of imagination. Girls tend to daydream to an unhealthy level. It almost seems to be built into our nature somehow. Like the little girl who always wants to play house. We were made to be homemakers and “nesting” comes, oh, too easily. We think about what our future might look like. Girls are also very relational. And it is not uncommon for girls to often think about their future husbands (or who that might be) and even their future children before ever entering that time of their life. And while it might not necessarily be wicked, it can be dangerous. It can be taken to an unhealthy level and reality can be lost. Our “fantasy”, or even hope of what our futures might be, can become more enjoyable to live than our actual life.
Proverbs 24:9 says, “The thought of foolishness is sin:”
This verse puts an immediate stop to all day dreaming, because that’s exactly what it is. Foolishness. According to Philippians 4:8, it isn’t whatsoever things are true. It isn’t whatsoever things are honest. It is vanity.
If you’ve ever “liked” someone in particular, you already know just how easy it is to think about that person. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, he can be in the back of your thoughts. And while thinking about that person isn’t necessarily a sin itself, and honestly just comes naturally, what we are thinking could be. Are you already mentally planning as if you’d spend your future with him? This isn’t right. This isn’t whatsoever things are just. Are your thoughts always drifting to the romantic side of things? This isn’t whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report. There are other thoughts along this subject which are more subtle, but equally just as dangerous if not more so. These are the thoughts about this “special someone” that actually are true. Things said or events that actually happened. Such as, maybe the last time your families spent the day together or when you last saw him at church; whatever it might be. Our minds have a way of “replaying” everything. Like, how he looked at you, or even if he looked at you. What was said; how we laughed together. Maybe the things you did. All these “little things” become precious and hidden away in our hearts when we like someone. But my question is: Is it virtuous? Is it praiseworthy? Philippians 4:8 says “…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” And it is all such thoughts that we must surrender to the Lord. They are not healthy for us to hold so close to our hearts, or to replay in our minds.
II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ:”
Our thoughts must be brought captive to the obedience of Christ. When our minds wonder foolishly or even romantically, we must stop and submit them to the Lord. It hast to be a conscious effort. It is a choice we make. “Casting down imaginations”. We must cast them down at Jesus’ feet. And when we do, we’ll find that He is always there faithfully waiting to take our thoughts and imaginations. That He has already promised the victory. It is ours to claim at the very moment our hearts looks up towards Him. Ephesians 4:23 says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” Our minds need to be renewed. And it is by taking them to Jesus that He then forgives and cleanses and renews them again.
“And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4)
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalms 10:4)
Sadly, what could be said of the “wicked” here, could also be said of most Christians. God is not in all his thoughts. And what a difference it would make if He was!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24)
In order for the Lord to even be able to help us keep our hearts with diligence, they must first be given to Him. He must have our heart. Our will must be put into neutral. Our hearts cannot be set on anything that isn’t of the Lord. Even with the things that just aren’t His timing yet. We cannot have a froward heart. To stubbornly insist on our own way is heartache.
“He that hath a froward heart findeth no good:” (Proverbs 17:20)
“They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.” (Proverbs 11:20)
In Luke 12, we are encouraged to “take no thought for your life”. I think this is the biggest secret to keeping our hearts with all diligence. Letting God be our everything. When we have let go of our life, our plans, our dreams, our heart’s desires, our future hopes, and our deepest longings; when instead, all else becomes as complete loss compared to Him; when He becomes that one desire of our hearts.
“I’ve been a great deal happier since I have given up thinking about what is easy and pleasant, and being discontented because I couldn’t have my own will. Our life is determined for us; and it makes the mind very free when we give up wishing, and only think of bearing what is laid upon us, and doing what is given us to do.” George Eliot